The government will study why grandma shouldn't vote and why people shouldn't elect a president

As could easily have been predicted, the scandalous tweet of the new Minister of Welfare Gatis Eglītis did not provoke any discussion in the coalition or, as it is now called, Cooperation Council. Everything is fine. As always. However, it was decided to commission a study (which will probably cost the classic half a million euros) on the reasons for the low turnout in the municipal elections.
09.06.2021. BLBens Latkovskis
 
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The government needs to understand why turnout was so low to know what to improve and how to ensure that it does not happen again. This is how Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš explains this decision. He does not want to "speculate" with his personal thoughts on this issue, so a special study will be commissioned. Since neither I, nor Neatkarīgā have an extra half a million for such a "study", I will just have to "speculate" a bit.

In my opinion, there are two systemic reasons why the activity in local elections decreases each time. The first is that the offering of political forces in municipal elections is becoming increasingly impersonal. It has been said for years that municipal elections are not political, but economic. Both voters and the parties themselves believe in this, trying to stuff everything they can think of into their programs. As a result, party programs become indistinguishable. The craziest thing is that they become indistinguishable not only from a party point of view but also territorially. If one were to pick a random municipal election program, then it would most likely not only be impossible to say which party's program it is, but also to which municipality it belongs.

Consequently, the issue of personalities comes to the fore. This, in turn, means that if there is no one among the candidates that you personally want to see in the deputy's chair, or if there is no one that you absolutely do not want to see there, then these elections are not of much interest. Why go and participate, if nothing changes and it's hard to find any meaning in it?

Admittedly, people quite often do things that are difficult to find a rational meaning in, but they still do so because everyone does, and has always done so. So why is going to the polls becoming increasingly unpopular? Here we come to the second, but perhaps the most important reason for the low turnout. Namely, at the signals sent to the public by opinion leaders. At this point, many can exclaim - what do you mean? After all, they all ask people to go to the polls, often even invoking a civic duty and the like. It seems to be so, but only somewhat. Formally, yes, but not in essence.

Any parenting professional will tell you that you can say the right things to your child every single day, but if you do the exact opposite, your child will not accept the pattern of behavior you tell him, but will imitate what he sees. That's how it is in the election. The political class can repeat the official slogans of democratic representation, the need for everyone to fulfill their civic duty, and the like in every election, but these are just the obligatory chants that must be repeated like a mantra so they seem to be doing everything correctly. Actions and non-compulsory chants are completely different.

Let's start with non-compulsory chants. The best-known of them is now recognized as politically incorrect (ageism) and therefore has lost its former popularity as a meme - hide your grandma's passport. These four short words contain an unbelievably large-scale condition - there are a lot of fools in our society (mostly the elderly) who ruin the whole political landscape with their stupid choices, so everything possible must be done, including means of physical coercion (hiding passports, locking them in the house, not driving to the polling station, etc.) so that these fools cannot vote. Needless to say, in absolutely all cases (100%) the adepts of this condition consider themselves "smart" and others as "fools". The problem, in this case, is that when such a vision becomes dominant in society, it reaches the "ordinary people" as - oh, there's no point in going to those elections. It might even be better that way, because I really didn't understand it so well.

But it is one thing if this mantra of "stupid people" that only know how to elect fools as representatives vibrates in the minds of the public, but quite another if it is embodied in national legislation and convincingly dominates the political debate at the highest level. You might ask, what am I talking about?

On July 26, 2012, the Saeima passed amendments to the law “On National Referendum and Legislative Initiative”, which effectively abolished referendums as a group. In theory, of course, there was still the possibility of collecting the notarized signatures of 150,000 voters, but if the huge threshold were to be overcome, the next hurdle had been prepared. To change something in a referendum, 50% + one vote of these changes must be voted not by those who came to this referendum, but by 50% + one vote of all those entitled to vote. In other words, these two thresholds are set so high that referendums can be forgotten.

What is the justification for this "ban" on referendums? The same old - who can guarantee that the "stupid people" will not vote for some nonsense with the help of a referendum? No one can give such guarantees, so it must be ensured that no one even thinks of doing a referendum.

The question of a president being elected by the people has also been slowly simmering for years. Various polls show that there is strong public support for the idea, but so far the issue has not risen to the top of the political debate, as it instantly encounters the caution of the political class (the same one that is dominated by the belief that people are "stupid") - what if they elect not the one we want? No, the "dumb" people must not be given such a dangerous tool. What if a president is elected who does not always support the ruling coalition (his electorate), but raises his strong voice when the ruling group allow themselves to commit another rotten move (as in the case of non-compliance with the law on medical salaries when discussing the 2020 budget) or say something blatantly unacceptable, as has just been the case with Minister Eglītis. If the president had been elected not by the politicians themselves but by the people, then such a president would have a much stronger moral backing, and he would be much more confident in correcting the cynical moves of politicians.

For the president not to come up with such surprises and for the political class to feel secure, it is necessary to limit the people's uncontrolled (free) political choices as much as possible. All legislation (on the number of members required for the formation of parties; on the exclusion of an association of voters from elections, etc.) is aimed in only one direction - to hinder any changes in the existing political system. This trend towards cementing the political system goes hand in hand with the declining electoral turnout. And it fully satisfies the political class. At least that's exactly what its legislative actions make one think. There is no evidence to the contrary. Therefore, all these "studies" are not only a blatant waste of taxpayers' money, but also a cynical demonstration of the hypocrisy of the political class.

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