Any system, even political, rapidly deteriorates in a non-competitive environment

An Eastern sage once said: In a forest without a tiger, the monkey becomes king. This epigraph could be repeated in almost every article dedicated to our political reality.
04.10.2021. BLBens Latkovskis
 
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In a situation where the current government and coalition can't be toppled (because creating a different one is impossible), political culture is rapidly deteriorating. At first, this coalition repeatedly increased funding for the parties (for themselves), now, without the slightest fear of people's anger, significantly - by 40% to 50% - increases the salaries of ministers, the prime minister, the president. Also for the MPs themselves, however, less - by about 10%. For comparison, the salaries of medical staff in 2022 are expected to increase by 4.4%.

Well-known lawyer Artūrs Zvejsalnieks writes on Twitter: “In the country fuel, electricity, gas, heating, food prices are growing rapidly. Covid is growing rapidly - there are worries of restrictions... The government this week raises their own wages, returns 40 million for foreign crimes to those who weren't hurt by them. If these people are re-elected in 2022, we have no chances...” One can also mention how our border is full of holes and the consistent non-construction of the fence.

You don't have to be clairvoyant to give Zvejsalnieks a clear answer - of course, the same people will be re-elected in 2022! The most interesting part here is a different question - why? At first glance, it may seem obvious that the answer to this question is self-evident - for the same reason that the Latvian national football team, even after the most shameful loss to Andorra, will leave the field of the next game in almost the same line-up as in the one which the suffered this defeat: there are simply no other, better players. It is assumed that everyone else is even worse and letting them on the field would make the loss even more severe. Here the keyword is - is assumed.

It is assumed that all or almost all is determined by the size of the player pool. The more choices, the more skillful players can be selected. It probably is so, but for such teams as Andorra, Liechtenstein and similar, the pool of players is not greater than for Latvia. It's even smaller. Neither we nor they have outstanding players who can do it all on their own. Thus, even if the second composition of the Latvian national team were let out on the field, the chances of winning would decrease only slightly. However, if the leading players knew that they were not irreplaceable and could be replaced because of poor performance, they would very likely try harder and the result, at least against weaker teams, would be better.

Here we will not look at how much the athletes themselves crave to fight for the national team and what is the prestige of this participation. It is an indisputable causal link - if you have a guaranteed place in the national team (in the national football team or in the ruling coalition), then your dedication falls and the results become less and less impressive, as we see not only in football, but also in our political field.

But this is only one side of the coin. The second is even more important, with even more serious consequences. It is quite normal for a large proportion of viewers (voters) to split into fan sectors, and this has always been the case. What is worse is that those who should be dispassionate observers and act like objective experts, have, without any shame, become passionate fans, to whom everything their idols do seems good, but every critic of them is a scum.

A good example of this inappropriate devotion is the office of government praisers Re:Baltica, and in particular its subsidiary Re:Check, whose original purpose was to verify facts. Such independent fact-checkers usually closely follow statements made by governments or other authorities, the statements of influential politicians, and verify their truth. Unfortunately, in our case, this supposedly independent organization has turned into a servant of those in power, who regularly "exposes" the social media posts of various fringe weirdos who do not represent anything and actually functions as the public relations specialists of the government.

Usually, they and their fans simply answer this with "yes, this fake news is spread by fringe individuals who do not represent anything, but very many believe them, so this fake news must be exposed." Maybe they should be exposed, but for this purpose there is a huge, you could even say, mind-boggling army of public relations in public administration. Each ministry, each institution has its own public relations department, the budget of which is comparable to, say, the average budget of the top ten Internet news portals. In addition to these well-paid PR experts, ministries also wastefully purchase additional outsourced public relations services from well-known (and expensive) PR firms.

Re:Baltica, public media, news agency LETA which is basically a monopoly, some internet portals are also singing alongside this huge army of PR experts. All this choir of loyalists of power chants one song - the people in power are good, there could be no better, because there are no others to replace them. There are some shortcomings, but work is being done to address them. So we should be glad that is the way it is because it could have been worse. Thank you, dear Kariņš! Just look at Gobzems! Do you really want him? Or, even worse, for Jones to come back?

If anyone doesn't know who Jones is, let me remind you that in George Orwell's legendary novel/pamphlet "The Animal Farm", the pigs who dominated the other animals replied to each expression of dissatisfaction with a menacing counter-question: "Do you want [the previous farm owner] John to come back?" The ideological servants of our power do the same.

Kariņš's government and the ruling coalition feel this broad, almost unconditional support, so they have almost lost any remnants of shame. Just like our footballers, who know that regardless of the performance shown on the field, they will be put on the field for the next national team game again, no matter what dedication they show on the pitch today. So we could agree with Zvejsalnieks - we have no chances. But we do have some chances. The patience of the people is indeed almost infinite, but fortunately, only almost.

*****

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