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BNN interview | Zatlers about Saeima’s dismissal: coalition’s silence may have a tragic end

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Ex-President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers

If coalition parties, including Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, stay silent, it could have a tragic end. They should not have to comment on signature collection campaign for the dismissal of 13th Saeima but instead look at the reason used by authors of the signature collection campaign for propaganda – healthcare, said ex-President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers in an interview to BNN.

According to Zatlers, the current Saeima is able to make decisions. This means there are no reasons for the parliament’s dismissal. «The main reason why snap elections are held in many countries is that parliaments are unable to make some important decision, such as approve the state budget.»

Only a couple of weeks have passed since the Saeima approved the state budget for 2020. Zatlers believes the fact that five parties, all with different opinions, were able to reach an agreement in regards to the budget is proof enough the parliament is capable of making decisions.

As for complaints about doctors’ wages, Zatlers stresses: «The government was not yet fully composed when the decision was made, and everyone voted how they saw fit. This is a great example of why we need a coalition with a majority of votes and an opposition that criticizes them. If everyone votes as they see fit, chaos appears, which needs organizing. At the time of the vote it seemed right [to vote in favour of raising doctors’ wages]. It is impossible to implement, because no one knew if their party would enter the government.»

«This is something Saeima deputies and voters have to understand – that there are side-effects and negatives from three months [without coalition and opposition in the Saeima or the government].»

«This was not the only unclear vote – how can people vote without anyone taking any responsibility. If you look at all the parties that voted in favour of doctors’ wages and whether or not they are in the government, you will see this is not the case.»

Full information on voting results can be found here.

Zatlers says: «It is not right to demand responsibility from this government and majority coalition for a vote, however unreasonable, that was made with good intentions. The responsibility should be with the people who claim to support the idea of Saeima’s dismissal.»

«The opposition’s argument that the coalition has cheated voters is unjustified,» says Zatlers. According to him, the opposition needs to understand that they have to carry responsibility for the Healthcare Financing Law, too, – «you cheated yourselves».

Nevertheless, Zatlers stresses that coalition parties and the prime minister should start conversing with doctors and patients, not wait for the signature collection for the Saeima’s dismissal to die down and have everything remain the same. The government needs to act wisely and reduce tension from healthcare problems.

«He is a loser»

The number of collected signatures is the first wave of people who are disappointed in the parliament. And this is the way they express their opinion about the Saeima. «The majority of people convinced of the need to dissolve the Saeima have already given their signatures. The wave will soon calm down, and from there it will be harder to convince people that the Saeima’s dismissal is needed,» says Zatlers.

Commenting on the leading authors of the initiative and supporters of this idea – Igors Lukjanovs aka homeless party member, Normunds Grostiņš, Aivars Lembergs and Aldis Gobzems – Zatlers says these people have a need to stay popular to feed their egos.

Latvia’s ex-president also says: «I have always said that our citizens’ intelligence should not be underestimated – people think about their country. They think what to do next, they try to understand. It is not like they’ll start torching homes immediately or anything like that. This simply will not happen.»

As for one of the most motivated and scandalous supporters of the idea to have the Saeima dismissed – Gobzems – Zatlers stresses that he will be accurate and cynical in his assessment. «He [Gobzems] is a loser who tries washing off his failure at any price. Because of that, he is no longer considered mature in politics. Who is to blame for that? He is.» Zatlers believes Gobzems has been taken over not by the desire to fight for justice but the desire for power.

Commenting on Lembergs’ involvement in urging residents towards dismissing the Saeima, the ex-president believes snap elections would not benefit him – he would lose even more than he did in the previous elections.

The ex-president stresses – public thinking has changed and no one invites Lembergs to enter the big political tribune. Lembergs knows as much. This is why «even he will be careful, even for him this is the only or last chance.»

Zatlers says people understand enough – Lembergs’ court process is in a stage when it is difficult to delay even more. This is one of the factors that reduce the chances of his supporting party Union of Greens and Farmers to improve results in snap elections.

«The same for Harmony. They are fractured on the inside,» says Zatlers, «however the four so-called independent deputies in Riga City Council – they are the internal Harmony, which points to fracture. But will their voters truly support thieves just because they are familiar?»

Zatlers says that even though the Union of Greens and Farmers is in the coalition and Harmony in the opposition, the two parties were unified in their decisions behind the scenes. «Currently they are very close in the Saeima meeting hall, but we do not see any outstanding unity. They were much more active ‘under the table’. This unity was observed in Ridzene talks also. It was like this – let’s settle things together and be allies, but no one should see this.»

«Now when the opposition needs to cooperate in the Saeima, I see no efficient cooperation, because everyone looks to their personal interests. They are, a the end of the day, competitors,» says Zatlers, adding that this this will last for as long as parties will not decide sharing the pie again.

Take away another year and a half of experience

Zatlers stresses that people still thinking on whether to commit to Saeima’s dismissal or not have to understand: «We might have a new Saeima, but has anyone said how it will operate for about year and a half? We will simply take away another year and a half of experience. Do we need this in the long run? Voters have to decide and think before they commit with their vote.»

He also stresses – Latvia is based on democratic values. This is why the opposition’s desire to dismiss the Saeima is not the right tool for the ‘fight’. According to Zatlers, this is not a test for Kariņš’s government – it is a test for everyone.

Zatlers reminds – it is not like there is no new generation of politicians in Latvia. «A lot of young politicians entered the Saeima with the last parliamentary elections. However, we cannot demand experience from day one. If we look at the same deputies who just started their first term, they have already accumulated a considerable amount of experience.»

According to him, the current government in Latvia is no worse than the last one, and the Saeima is not worse with the laws it approves. «It is simply that we always have the feeling that the grass was greener in the past.»

The ex-president stresses: «We have to understand the current Saeima is a parliament that runs on experience.» The parliament works and gains experience as it does. This helps the Saeima forge a stable political generation capable of understanding how a country should be managed.

Leave a reply

  1. Anna says:

    That’s no true. Majority of latvians know how it works in Latvia.

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