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Friday 23.02.2018 | Name days: Haralds, Almants
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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.

RigaTV24 journalist and event organizer Aivis Cerins:

«I think these municipal elections, like the previous ones, lack honesty and clarity of offers from candidates. The plan of actions for the next four years has been put on the background. Instead the focus is put on insulting and discrediting of competitors,» says Cerins.

He continues: «For me as a voter it is important to hear a clear offer from politicians, what they have planned for the future, etc. I believe in change and that we will see new faces in seats of the municipal administration. There is nothing to fear and no reason to listen to claims that new people will step on an old rake or go corrupt.»

Cerins reminds: «We have to keep in mind that there will always be competitors. In this case, they are the opposition. I invite everyone to cast their votes for the party they feel is worth voting for.»

Lead researcher and ethics specialist of the University of Latvia Skaidrite Lasmane:

«Human memory is very short – I don’t remember a thing from the previous elections. I don’t believe in election promises. I do, however, expect pragmatic and specific plans from candidates,» said the professor.

Lasmane mentions an example she read about elections abroad: «I know of an example in Norway. A person knows there aren’t enough kindergartens. A person starts thinking – why aren’t there enough kindergartens and how this problem can be solved. A person decides to enter politics to resolve this problem. If the person succeeds, he gets elected again later.»

Going back to developments in Latvia, the professor says: «People who only give promises buy voters with generous slogans,» Lasmane says.

«I don’t have such dogmas – what was then and what is now. I look at a person’s accomplishments, their plans to do something and the strength to do it – why not?! I fully understand that person is not a perfect angel. They will have mistakes. But they want to do something and I want to support them with my vote,» the professor says.

Active leisure project manager Krisjanis Jansons-Ratiniks (Velomens)

«Every resident group has its own interests, dreams and needs. Pleasing everyone is not easy. I do believe that it is possible. There are certain aspects, however, that have been left forgotten. Every state, city and countryside roads are there. If roads are in good shape, they are comfortable to drive on. Unfortunately, most streets in Riga are in poor shape. Good roads are required for everyone – cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. Let’s start there. It’s the first thing I expect from the new administration,» says Jansons-Ratiniks.

«Every party promises something. Every reasonable citizen knows there is no value to promises until the people who promise show how they intend to attract finances for their promises. The moment people stop believing, they die… Let’s hope, believe and continue living in the best municipality!» says Velomens.

Culture industry representative and manager of improvisational theatre Tea Tree Mairita Struberga:

Mairita Struberga believes changes should come by in any case, adding that «nothing will happen, if no one does a thing».

She continues: «I think everyone who can, should go vote to create this change».

Struberga also says that pre-election campaigns have no effect on her opinion. «I quietly follow everything politicians say and do. I use this as a decisive index for elections. Pre-election campaigns usually have little in the way of information and more in terms of optimistic promises. For me, however, rich promises do not help evaluate candidates.»

Vilands Associates communications specialist and sociological projects manager Didzis Rudmanis:

«The pre-election period lacked fundamental discussions among politicians,» said Rudmanis.

«Although it may seem voters cast their votes for the best possible head of the municipality, it is far more important to consider the politician’s personality and basic attitude towards hard work.»

In addition, the communication specialist notes that television debates allow politicians to compete with one another in the game of «who can offer the biggest real estate tax discount and who can seem the least sketchy in the process. At the same time, candidates’ personalities and their values remain alien to viewers».

Rudmanis continues: «A couple of weeks before elections, when Riga’s streets were clear of posters and slogans, the names of mayoral candidates were unknown to residents. This clearly demonstrates that efforts to promote candidates among residents have failed.»

The specialist is concerned about the involvement of residents in the election process. He says: «I truly hope voter’s overall participation in these elections will reach 50%. This did not happen in the previous two elections. Unfortunately, there is little chance things will turn out differently this time.»

Rugby club Miesnieki representative Janis Zalmans:

«I don’t plan to vote. But I do believe some candidates truly want to improve the situation in the municipality,» says the rugby player. He is confident candidates are interested in benefiting themselves, not serving the interests of society.

«Corruption-wise, I think we are not that far behind Russia. There is plenty of money for sports, but not enough to add actual improvements, it seems. At the same time, the municipality freely provides EUR 90 million in funding for Rīgas satiksme.»

Politologist Marcis Neibergs:

«Riga is my municipality. Riga remains managed by the party in power. They believe everything happening in Riga is great. Still, I think there is a serious lack of transparency. This transparency has been absent for years. This especially applies to the use of funding,» Neibergs comments.

«I don’t believe in change – I am 95% certain Nils Usakovs and Andris Ameriks will remain in power. I expect this result because Usakovs has a great PR campaign. People do not understand that the current administration of Riga City Council will not change a thing. If we look at statistical data, we see that a large proportion of residents wish to vote for Usakovs in spite of his involvement in major scandals. Hi PR campaign is stronger than all of his scandals,» says the politologist.

«I would even say people should go vote if they are determined to do so. I am a logically thinking person. Looking at statistical data, I am certain nothing will change in Riga.»

Architect, anthropologist and Fulbright programme participant Matiss Steinerts:

«I expect cooperation between the state and municipality after elections. I believe Harmony delays development in Riga because it is unable to reach an agreement with the government. On top of that, Harmony’s cooperation agreement with United Russia is a threat to Latvia’s national security,» says Steinerts.

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