That's me with the black umbrella

I'm not really a political animal. Opinionated, certainly, but I don't usually immerse myself in the minutiae of political life, reading newspapers avidly and keeping up with the names of ministers and their lackeys. But when important things happen, like elections, I make sure I read up on the necessary information so that I can take part in the democratic process knowingly...
There's not an election on at the moment, but lately, even this a-political mum has taken to the streets.
I'll try not go into a rant about exactly what's happening in Latvian politics - if you're interested I can point you to a few political opinion websites - but basically, the government's level of shameless corruption and pure self-centered greed have hit new heights. As the latest in a recent succession of dodgy power-grabbing moves, our premier illegally sacked the head of Latvia's anti-corruption commission last week, for a set of accounting misdemeanors, the kind that would usually earn a stern talking-to at most.
When watching the political process in Latvia, you often end up feeling a little like you're watching a sci-fi movie - things don't seem quite real. You often sit there wondering how this could all be allowed to happen.... I suppose the answer is that the government is the highest power and a law unto themselves, and they can do whatever they want - who will stop them (especially if you fire the head of the anti-corruption bureau! Oh, and instate a new Prime Minister who is a surgeon and publicly admits to having taken bribes!).
So to cut a long rant short, FINALLY more people have got fed up, and a few days ago there was a protest outside the Saiema (Parliament) in Riga. It was the largest protest gathering since the protests calling for Latvian independence. Over 5000 people turned up, although it was early morning, cold and pouring rain - and I think it was well worth it. Both politically, as it seems to have sent a message to the government, which have gone into 'crisis mode' since the event with ministers stepping down etc., we will see how things unfold - but also personally. It was a very heartening experience to take my personal despair at politics out on the streets, and to see that others feel the same. It was inspiring to be amongst a throng of people, pensioners and students and well-known academics, writers and musicians - and feel a sense of solidarity. This is not something you see that often here - people rarely wear their sense of social responsibility on their sleeves - and I often feel like there are only a few of us who make choices based on other principles rather than "me first". It was also a great feeling to be actively involved in caring about this country - instead of passively listening to the news and shaking my head and switching off in despair.
So here's to taking to the streets - with husband and kids in tow next time! And I expect the next time will be soon, as the Saiema will be voting on the dismissal of our sorry anti-corruption chief in the next few weeks... Will keep you posted!

One Response so far.

  1. Jonny says:

    Shit yeah, protest that. Viva la Revolucion.

    Actually the protest made the Bangkok post and I was wondering what it was all about - very sketchy in the paper, something about a sacking.

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