Latvia also has its Superman
Imants Frederiks*, June 8, 2009
For the reasons, at least officially related to cost-effectiveness, local municipal elections took place simulatneously with European Parliament elections. And this combination dominated over the compaign. The main emphasis due to number of reasons were municipal elections. This leaves a strong impact on the future of the country, at least thus it is perceived by the overwhelming majority of people.
Apparently the issue of "economic mishap' at home dominated over the elections and thus who will be in charge of local authorities was more at stake than who will represent Latvia in the legislative body of European Union. Moreover in contrast to the position of Europe's commissionair, MEPs are rather considered to be nonworkers than has little if any impact on the political stage of EU.
If a political stage of Latvia is viewed somewhat simplified along the borderlines of two largest ethnic groups - Latvians and Russians, then the political rivalry might be grouped under two titles - proffesional politicians that will leave a good footprint by their job in Europe would be the course taken by 'Latvian' political groups and the politicians that will be the strong voice in Europe by the 'Russian speaking' political groups.
Now if we look at the first, so far, unofficial results released by the unidentified source, we see that the so called 'Civic Union' got the majority of 24.3% of voices, closely followed with 19.3% by the 'Harmony Centre' (Saskaņas Centrs in Latvian, otherwise could be translated as the Centre for Unity, which is mainly considered as the 'Russian speaking' political force). Apparently both of the mentioned will take 2 seats in the European Parliament, whereas yet 4 political forces are about to have a single seat. Those are the, generally considered as pro Russian political force of 'Unity for Human Rights in a United Latvia', pro Latvian political force - "For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK", Latvian political force "New Era" and the political force lead by a business strongman Ainars Šlesers "The First Party of Latvia/The Way of Latvia".
At this point unofficial information bears that it is recent expremier of Latvia Ivars Godmanis who will represent Latvia from "The First Party of Latvia/The Way of Latvia". A political force he represents is, in fact, to some extent the major event in the whole political compaign if judged by what was done not what was achieved. The compaign strongly relied on a strongman Ainars Šlesers as a dominant force that was alluded throughout the compaign materials to the 'Superman'. He was positioned throughout the compaign as the one having energy in abundance and that was physically manifested through distributing energy drinks with his name and a logo of the initial letter "Š" in a triangular shape strongly resembling the one of "Superman".
Their compaign involved mass gathering at the Hockey and Concerto Arena of Riga where the mission of the political force was manifested in a show that had in abundance light effects, concert of popular musicians and the background of people that were announced as excellent specialists in their respective areas of business, science and social life that will make the core of party's representation in Riga city council and Parliament of Europe. The political force performed well in elections though came only second with quite a distance from the first - the Harmony Centre.
When looking back at the whole process of compaigning it is understandable why EU institutians showed worries about the place given to the EU parliament elections in the member-states. Moreover in this particular situation parties tried to reap all the possible benefits from the existing MEPs in the context of elections of local authorities instead of focussing on political programmes for their representation in EU legislative body. A criticism was aired also to the spendings existing MEPs afforded from the allocations of EU parliament. Thus the money for informing on the job of EU parliament might just as well be counted against the spendings of political forces for their compaigning.
*Imants Frederiks is a journalist from Latvia who wrote these lines especially for euinside, on euinside's request.