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13th Saeima comments: euphoria; not especially wise traditions; fewer communists

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe 13th Saeima has 66 deputies that had never previously set foot in the main meeting hall of the parliament. Parliamentarians are hopeful about these ‘newcomers’, saying that they bring with them a breath of fresh air and possibly change the old and, according to them, not at all wise established traditions.

BNN found out what representatives from all seven parties elected to the Saeima think about the composition of the new parliament during the first meeting of the new Saeima, which took place 6 November.

Governments in which gender ratio is more balanced generally work differently

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13th Saeima deputy Daniels Pavļuts

When asked about the main tasks ahead of the 13th Saeima, Attīstībai/Par! party’s member Daniels Pavļuts said  the following: «One of the main objectives of the newly-elected Saeima is forming a decisive government. Coalition formation remains a priority, as well».

When asked about the strong and weak sides of the 13th Saeima, Pavļuts said there are many newcomers – young deputies and new faces. ‘This is both the strong and weak point, because we will need a transition period’.

«I believe it is an enormous plus that this Saeima has many women in it. Governments in which gender ratio is more balanced work differently – such government generally better address different aspects and possible consequences,» he said.

It is possible that cooperation partners have already been found and the coalition has been composed

«The fact that new people keep entering politics is a very good thing. This drive. What’s important is making sure we have enough strength and desire. Experience is decisive in all cases,» BNN was told by Union of Greens and Farmers member Raimonds Bergmanis.

When asked if UGF could end up in the opposition, Bergmanis said «no one can say for sure at this time». «We now see that seats are being actively divided mere hours prior to the meeting. If this is how we start this Saeima, I find it hard to imagine how things could turn out in the future. Perhaps even cooperation partners have been found and the coalition has been composed already».

Fewer communists in the Saeima and Cabinet of Ministers

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13th Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš

«Once a new government has been formed, the first task for the new Saeima would be approving of the 2019 state budget. There is very little room for changes in the next year’s budget. Non-approval of the new budget or uprooting it entirely would be very unprofessional,» BNN was told by KPV LV leader Artuss Kaimiņš.

He says he has taken calling the new government the ‘MPC liquidation government’. «MPC needs to be terminated before 2 July or sooner. This, I believe, would be the first good deed for Latvia, because this system represents one huge scheme that has been going on for decades. We have the most expensive electricity in the European Union – this is not normal».

As for the strong sides of the new Saeima, Kaimiņš said the previous parliament had 34 communists and there were some in the Cabinet of Ministers. «Many have been booted, and I should thank our voters for that. The Saeima’s strong side is having fewer communists in the parliament and Cabinet of Ministers.»

We need to focus to avoid ending up in a different country

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13th Saeima deputy Janīna Kursīte-Pakule

Janīna Kursīte-Pakule, member of the National Alliance ‘All for Latvia’ – ‘For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK’ said the following of the most important tasks for the new government: «We have to focus to avoid ending up in a different country». She also emphasizes the importance of the education reform and the matter of municipalities. «We have to think of the reformation of municipalities, but in a way to avoid them falling from one ditch into another,» said the representative of the National Alliance.

When asked about 13th Saeima’s strong sides, she said: «Whenever newcomers appear, it brings new tidings. It is good, because it makes the old question if matters of old are truly immovable. Young people often have a wider look at things. They are free. We [old politicians] are still governed by old prejudices.»

Kursīte-Pakule also hopes deputies of the new Saeima will be more open to compromises in Latvia’s favour.

Young people who have never worked in the Saeima before may change old, not especially wise traditions

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13th Saeima deputy Evija Papule

When asked about the education reform, Harmony member Evija Papule said it is necessary to look if assistance from the Saeima is needed to ensure the reform goes well. «Not quickly, but positively. This includes formulating Saeima’s attitude towards changes in education. One other important matter, I believe, is sorting out the country’s healthcare system. What is most important and what people expect the most, I think, is reviewing of pension system in a way that would allow increasing pensions,» BNN was told by Papule.

When asked how Harmony reacted to other political parties refusal to include it in government talks, Papule said: «It is no secret, and I’ve said before that drawing lines against people for whom Latvian is not a native language and propagating that one party represents the same people it has, is wrong at the very core.»

Commenting on the strong sides of the 13th Saeima, Papule said that one such side is that changes have already occurred. «I don’t mean that young people have entered the Saeima or that old politicians have left. I only mean that there are many newcomers who have never worked in the Saeima. They are the ones who might change old and not entirely wise traditions here.»

Three priorities – security, education and regional reform

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13th Saeima deputy Arvils Ašeradens

«Security, education and regional reform – these are the three topics we have picked in New Unity. Security affairs are at the core, considering we are currently in a very complicated foreign situation. There is no room for error here,» said New Unity member Arvils Ašeradens.

As for the composition of the 13th Saeima, Ašeradens said the following: «I think it is interesting to see the parliament change so radically for the first time. We have more than 60 new deputies. They will require time to understand where they are, what they intend to do and how things work here. These are the first days of the new Saeima. It was hard reaching an agreement. It is normal for there to be competition during elections and teamwork after.»

As for New Unity’s position and representation in the 13th Saeima, Ašeradens admits: the party had more than 20 seats in the past – not it has 8. «We have to look how New Unity has gone through a very deep crisis. Last year, when we reformed the party, we were close to 2% rating. At one point, we had dropped to as far as 1% rating. It seemed like the situation was hopeless. We have managed to replace the old management of the party and its work style. By transitioning from an autocratic style to a team-based style, I believe we have accomplished an excellent result!»

Reinforcement of the rule of law is foundation for all

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13th Saeima deputy Juris Jurašs

«Currently the situation is that any political party that had promised something during the pre-election period have to fulfil their promises. What the New Conservative Party has picked as its priority is the reinforcement of the rule of law in Latvia. We believe it to be the foundation for all directions – it is the sole factor that can assist with raising the country’s welfare level,» BNN was told by New Conservative Party’s member Juris Jurašs.

«Time will tell what the strong and weak sides are. I want to hope that the fact that two-thirds of the Saeima has been replaced and that new politicians have entered the parliament will form the parliament’s strong side. I do not think the parliament’s capacity and experience has decreased now that many old politicians have left. I think it is a matter of time for young politicians to gather experience and start working to their full extent,» said Jurašs.

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