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Opinion: a people’s elected president will not resolve anything

Ansis Bogustovs/youtube.com.
79% of residents support the idea of having a people’s elected president, according to data from SKDS. Are Latvian residents sufficiently competent to make such a decision? What would such a choice be based on? How would realizing such an idea change the existing interior structure of the country, says Turība University lecturer and Riga TV24 and Latvijas Radio journalist Ansis Bogustovs.

«For most people in countries like France and Lithuania, presidents who were elected in recent years using media tricks and populism brought more disappointment than praise. Hoping to avoid disappointment, people make the opposite choice and end up in a different ditch, as it happened with the last two presidents in France,» Bogustovs says.
 

He continues: «Ratings of people’s elected presidents decline as rapidly as they rise. Such a situation creates a degree of instability for society. It is reckless, foolish and even dangerous. Donald Trump’s election in USA was basically a democratic solution.»
 

At the same time, Bogustovs notes that Latvia has never had a tradition of allowing the people elect their president. «If we look at Lithuania, which has such a tradition, we should mention that the tradition there was historically formed. They walked the path of electing leaders throughout their history – they had also had kings and queens, after all.»
 

Bogustovs says that it is worth keeping in mind that wishing for a people’s elected president makes it easy to fall for tricks of populists and other people dangerous to democracy. «I do not feel stable with the country’s current structure. It is only understandable that there will always be political deals – ruling parties and opposition are represented in the parliament, and it is not like all deputies are prepared to sell their principles,» he says.
 

It should be said that one of the hottest topics in Latvia this summer was the proposal for the introduction of a people’s elected president. Raimonds Vejonis’ 22 June speech to the Saeima, asking the parliament to allow residents to elect the president in 2019 also caused major discussions.
 

Bogustovs comments: «I don’t think the idea of a people’s elected president would improve anything. It is more of personal idea that personal involvement will change something. We cannot pick a single person and personify that person as the saviour capable of solving all problems in Latvia.»
 

He adds: «It is unclear as to why Mr Vejonis would debate such an idea now. Considering the president’s current level of popularity, it is unlikely he will be re-elected. This is a topic that should be discussed over a course of decades, not pulled out from time to time for pointless talks.»

BNN

30-08-2017
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