The flowering of democracy across eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union reaches a new peak this weekend, with the people of Latvia given the chance to throw out their government between elections. The referendum is supported by the opposition, but, not surprisingly, not by the government.
Even so, President Valdis Zatlers welcomed the democratic milestone:
“I want to thank all Latvian citizens voting today. It is good that they express their opinion. With issues like this, we are building a better tomorrow for all of us.”
Critics say Latvia’s ruling elite is divorced from reality, in a country where people aspire to Western values, but whose living standards are still well below average. Like people in other former Soviet-bloc countries, Latvians seem to have lost confidence in their leaders, seeing them as merely self-serving. Latvia’s recent economic good times also have turned sour with the global credit crunch, further adding to voters’ unhappiness.