October 28, 2010

English summary

The two main topics of the October issue of Diplomaatia are the recent general elections in Latvia and Sweden.

The two main topics of the October issue of Diplomaatia are the recent general elections in Latvia and Sweden.

English summary

The two main topics of the October issue of Diplomaatia are the recent general elections in Latvia and Sweden.
In the opening article, journalist Anvar Samost analyses the elections held in Latvia on October 2 and the reasons why Estonia and Latvia – despite their remarkable similarities – differ significantly from each other in terms of political transparency, corporate ethics and their levels of corruption. Estonia made a clean break with its Soviet past in 1992, as it managed to pass a new constitution, to elect its first parliament and to implement a fundamental monetary reform during the first year after the restoration of its independence, while the process of reform was stalling in Latvia. “It is plausible that a dragging transition period allowed mistrust and indifference to transfer from the occupying power to one’s own state. The fact that ‘new’ forces were voted for at consecutive elections was not the only sign of alienation – people also ignored state taxes and tolerated corruption. The most outstanding result of these developments is the intimately intertwined relationship between politics and business,” states Samost.
According to Pauls Raudseps, a Latvian political commentator, many observers predicted that the Latvian electorate would respond with a total rejection of all the parties that had been in government during the country’s boom and bust. However, this did not happen – the elections were won by a three-party coalition ‘Unity’ led by Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis who had made tough budget cuts. “Dombrovskis’s popularity was a very important factor in its success,” claims Raudseps. He also highlights the voters’ refusal to be swayed by populism or expensive advertising campaigns.
Political analyst Veiko Spolitis continues the analysis of the elections in Latvia. According to his assessment, approximately 50-60 percent of Latvian MPs will be replaced. He claims that the election results open a window of opportunity for reforms in Latvia’s political system and culture. In addition, Spolitis examines the key principles of the governing coalition under Dombrovskis’s leadership: fiscal discipline, the concept of nation-state, the adoption of a Western-oriented approach and sustainable public administration.
Deputy Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies (ICDS) Riina Kaljurand writes that although the most burning current issue in Sweden is the possible reunion of ABBA, the recent parliamentary elections are also worthy of a small mention. The re-election of Sweden’s ruling centre-right government for a second term at general elections on September 19 is a unique event in Sweden’s history. “Since the establishment of the party in 1904, the right-wing or more conservative forces led by the Moderates have managed to form only four governments,” writes Kaljurand. She claims that these elections probably herald a fundamental shift in Sweden’s political paradigm and that the effective economic policy of the right-wing is one of the driving forces behind their success.
Director of the ICDS Kadri Liik looks back at the 18-year rule of Yuri Luzhkov as Moscow mayor. She analyses the reasons why Luzhkov was fired and the possible implications of this move. “The sacking of Luzhkov was the right thing to do, but it was done for the wrong reasons,” claims Liik.
In the book review section, Estonian diplomat Ruta Nõmmela introduces a book on Afghanistan by Swedish diplomat Diana Janse, En del av mitt hjärta lämnar jag kvar (A Piece of My Heart Will Stay Here), and Erik Männik, a senior researcher at ICDS, reviews Bob Woodward’s most recent publication, Obama’s Wars.

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