Priorities First

Just when you think the wacky world of Latvian politics couldn’t get much more absurd – it does.

Godmanis is gone – well sort of. He is still running the country but that doesn’t really matter, does it? And while back-from-Brussels Valdis Dombrovskis has been named the anointed one, he reckons it will probably take him two weeks to get a coalition together – this despite the fact that we’ve already had well over week of parties meeting each other to decie that, yes, in theory they could work together just fine.

So what’s the reason for the delay?

We have an absurd situation where every party agrees on two things:

  1. The situation is very serious and calls for action as quickly as possible. We must sacrifice everything and stint at nothing in putting the needs of the nation before all else.
  2. We’re not doing anything until we have been fed our piece of the pie, climbed aboard the gravy train and ensured our own interests.

The sight of these political parties squabbling over ministries like children fighting over who gets the shiniest marbles in the bag is extremely instructive. The Greens and Farmers Union regards the agriculture ministry as its personal fiefdom while the petulant Latvia First/Latvia’s Way party – which can’t even sort out a proper name for itself – is trying to cling onto the free-spending transport ministry like a twenty year old having his beloved BMW repossessed by GE Money.

All the parties are up to the same horse trading to some extent, giving the lie that they care about much more than their own interests. The government gets doled out first, and then we’ll wonder if there’s anyone in the party that won a ministry that can actually do the job.

If all the rhetoric about national unity and sacrifice was worth a sou, Dombrovskis should have been able to ask: “Regardless of how many cabinet  posts I give you, are you in or out?”

Of course it would probably be naive to expect anything else from parties that have got into the habit of seeing their pathetic, petty squabbles as titanic clashes, in the same way that some parliamentarians who see themselves as great orators are more clown than ringmaster.

But maybe they could at least drop the pretence that they are selfless servants of the state ready to man their posts until the crack of doom. The future of the country may be urgent, but it’s not quite as urgent as the future of the party, eh?


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