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Reflection – Gints Salaks

by on November 27, 2007

Management of Change in Politics

Politics, politics, politics. In my opinion it is one of the most agile professions in the world and I will explain why I think so. In this paper I will focus again on the current political situation in the Republic of Latvia and how it has driven me to conclude that management of change has never left or ever will politics.

But first thing first, Latvia is a democratic republic that first gained independence in 1918 but lost it again in 1941. It finally regained its independence in 1991, so the idea of democratic politics is relatively new concept. So if we assume that the oldest politician was born in 1930, by now he would be 77 years old and will not have seen or experienced any first wave of democratic ideas. All of today’s politicians have been raised during the Soviet times when the main idea was to gain personal well being while one is at the helm of power. During this era, corruption was commonly accepted and the idea prevailed that one can pay for anything. Which concludes that today’s politician would inherit this characteristic in leading Latvia today. But..

There is only one problem. To get to the desired chair, one needs to convince the people that he or she is best suited for the desired position. It takes time for the politician to investigate what the needs of people are and he strikes where he sees is good chance of getting more votes. For example, many times the politicians, before election begins, state that they will raise salaries for teachers, nurses, retirees, and so on, but how many times does it really happen? One of the biggest promises three – four years ago in Latvia was to lower the income tax. It was believed that by doing it, people’s well being and purchase power would increase. Today, the same politician who promised that, says that it would not be advised to lower tax if we want to increase teachers and doctors salaries. So as you can see, they are very agile and smart on dealing with these delicate issues. I believe that in politics being agile or being a liar have many similarities and many politicians draw a thin line between those two.

Six weeks ago, Latvia was in so called political crisis because the prime minister was ready to fire the general who was in charge of anti-corrupt police force. The issue came when in Latvian constitution it states that the prime minister doesn’t have such rights. Many people went out in streets to protest against this vote and corruption in government and how the parliament and leading parties are so corrupt that they want to overthrow the only control instrument which prevents the corruption in the government. After loud debates, the general was reinstated in his position, but the prime minister has lost his trust in the people’s eyes. As the result, he acknowledged that he will step down. But it is not over yet. Couple weeks later, he said that he doesn’t feel guilty and might not step down. He says that he needs to accept the next year’s budget with currently elected ministers. What is the reason behind that? Well, most of the department ministers are from the same party as the prime minister, as the result, he has some control over the budget. And budget plays big role determining people’s salaries and more.

As you might see, the politics get very agile to politicians when one gets the desired seat. Maybe in more democratic countries, it is ethical to step down if you see that you have made a mistake and that the people of one’s country protest against you. But, also even in democratic countries such as the United States, we have seen examples of how political chair grants you the rights to be more flexible. For example, when Dick Cheney shot his hunting buddy, he didn’t acknowledge his mistake immediately, but just after some time (CNN). Another example is how George Bush has many times changed his view how he sees the progress of the war in Iraq. Even the current presidential candidates change what they claim they support to appeal to the voters. For example, many of today’s current candidates criticize the Patriot’s Act even though they voted in favor of it in the past. So the agility or lying in politics, regardless of political party, walks a thin line there. Politicians always find an excuse and a “good” reason why not or to do what they have decided on.

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