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Municipal elections 2017: what do people say?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUWith municipal elections gradually coming close, BNN offers a compilation of opinions provided by experts from different industries. Short answers consist of thoughts about specific municipalities that affect respondents directly, and municipal administrations in general – what people expect from officials and what changes they expect from elections.

Roberts Osis, specialist of Papardes zieds association:

Compared with previous elections, political parties have become more active on social networks. This demonstrates certain changes in thinking and a clear intent to motivate a younger generation of voters. This is a positive sign, as it helps motivate a larger number of voters who do not use traditional media.

Osis says new parties are more active than old parties in this area. «He we can mention Janis Bordans and Juta Strīķe from the New Conservative Party or Saeima deputy Martins Bondars from For Latvia’s Development. KPLV.LV and other classic parties also intend to start in Riga, creating considerable competition to Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga».

As for aspects that are important from the perspective of his represented organization, it is worth mentioning that the majority of parties claiming to be in favour of change all talk about established problems, such as public transport prices, real estate tax, quality of roads, free lunches in schools, support for emerging businesses and others.

But the pre-election discourse lacks discussions about matters associated with topics like sexual and reproductive health of people from risk groups. Also, in spite of growing spread of AIDS and other STDs among young people, politicians do not seem too interested in coming up with different measures to combat this problem. The largest political parties also do not seem ready to work with NGO sector in the function of municipal administrations. The same can be said in general about the involvement of citizens in different decision-making processes.

In conclusion, he said Papardes zieds does generally believe in change, adding that there is a possibility of new political forces entering municipal administration in the capital. Osis hopes there will be stronger and more active opposition that will help balance out different interests.

Miss Latvia 2016 Linda Kinca

Linda Kinca is from Kekava. She hopes the words spoken by municipalities will be followed up by actions. She believes in change because, according to her, nothing in Kekava remains still. This means this city will definitely continue developing in the future. When asked who she intends to vote for, she said: «Honesty? It will be hard for me to pick.»

Competition Council chairperson Skaidrite Abrama

Regardless of municipalities and political parties elected there, Competition Council hopes municipal administrations will work to promote honest and equal competition environment for residents and private businessmen. By rejecting artificial and unnecessary obstacles for the creation of a successful free market, municipalities can contribute to economic growth and competition development.

The chairperson notes that this is exactly why CC intents to follow the work done by municipalities with great interest and prevent different competition distortions. «We hope municipalities will listen to opinions and reports provided by the council and avoid making wrong decisions.»

Abrama emphasizes that one of the most topical problems associated with competition rights in Latvia is the distortions to competition created by officials. «These distortions are realized in different forms. Most often they are exhibited in the form of discrimination of private sector companies and securing favourable conditions for businesses belonging to officials of municipalities.»

Oxford University graduate and anthropologist Andris Suvajevs:

Suvajevs shares his personal experience, saying that elections have become a ritualized event and ceremonial activity during which one and the same happens every time: the same promises are made, the same faces and names appear and the usual motto – ‘Go vote!’ – is voiced.

«The process itself includes many aspects, but the central outcome is the establishment of public values. Every four years we remind ourselves that we live in one community and our strength is in the paper we hand in,» says the anthropologist.

He continues: «This is collective experience the function is not changing anything, but rather strengthening what already exists. This is why I definitely do not expect any changes. Election programmes of parties in Riga seem laughable and weak to me. Rarely parties mention real problems – empty buildings, poverty, homeless people, etc.»

As for his opinion on elections, the anthropologist says: «It is clear there is little to no contact with current heads of Riga City Council. We can be happy about activity in the social media, but no real discussion can take place there. No one has asked me what I want. Instead they expect me to go to them. The same way their programmes become more and more distanced from people’s needs and worries.»

In the end, Suvajevs is strict on his position on elections: «I won’t vote and I actively recommend to all of my family members and friends to do the same. Any vote, empty, or for some marginal party, I think, only legitimizes this game further.»

Tukuma Straume quality manager Sandra Kula:

Sandra Kula believes there is a lack of information about candidates’ promises and their goals.

Continuing, she adds: «Only a handful of booklets are tossed into the mailbox. Posters with faces of political candidates are glued on every wall, even though it is likely illegal. I am surprised about the range of ages of candidates – from middle school students to pensioners.»

Kula says she won’t vote.

«There are many candidate lists and no clarity. If I’d lived in the countryside, it would have been easier for me to choose. I don’t see a single perspective leader among them. I expect the municipality to reduce heating prices.»

Pensioner from Jelgava Vija Dzelme:

«There are no miracles that will solve all problems,» says Dzelme. According to her, changes will come if new or existing parties will work honestly and respectfully towards society. «Only then will hopes for a better life stay for good,» said the woman.

Public health representative and fitness trainer Flera Petersone:

She says: «I think municipal elections have two characteristics. There are municipalities in which work of administrations is performed without major scandals. Active deputies will likely remain in their posts after elections. There are also municipalities in which pre-election campaigns are odd and include all possible media types, including social channels. Some parties there pick aggressive election campaigns, putting focus on competitors and their problems, not on what they have planned for the next four years.»

As for what is lacking and what she expects from elections, Petersone says: «If I think about my municipality in this regard, I see there is a lack of a clear vision about parties methods to win. There are 11 party lists. Looking at their programmes, I have to conclude that there are three or four strong lists. That’s because programmes of other candidate lists copy one another.»

Petersone is negative about any changes. «I don’t believe that there will be any major changes in the municipality. We have to look at actual work, because pre-election programmes can be made unbelievably attractive to convince everyone. I try to be a realist – I follow actions, not words.»

Ref: 225.109.109.5201


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