Citing health, culture minister Demakova resigns

Saying her health prevents her from participating in the political process, Latvia’s Minister of Culture Helēna Demakova has submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis.

Demakova has served as culture minister since 2004. She submitted her resignation Jan. 12.

A founding member of the People’s Party (Tautas partija), Demakova has tapped actor Juris Žagars to be her replacement. In a press release announcing her resignation, Demakova said her replacement “must be a person with a national and politically conservative presence,” but should also have authority in the cultural sector and experience in culture management. If party leaders agree, they would nominate Žagars to the prime minister.

Demakova has been diagnosed with a bone infection.

Demakova’s resignation came after President Valdis Zatlers criticized as “amoral” a decision to sign a LVL 6.77 million contract for design of a new concert hall at a time of government belt-tightening.

The contract was signed by the state agency Jaunie Trīs brāļi, part of the Ministry of Culture. Formed in 2005, the agency has been responsible for the planning, design and construction of the new Latvian National Library, the Rīga Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The same day Demakova handed in her resignation, the ministry also announced that the Jaunie Trīs brāļi agency will be liquidated and its functions given over to the Ministry of Finance.

Construction of the library, known as the “Gaismas pils” project, continues, but construction of the concert hall has been put off until at least 2011. The art museum is still being planned.

Work on the three projects is one of the achievements of her time in office, Demakova said in the press release. During her tenure, she said, the cultural sphere in Latvia has grown from an “orphan” and “beggar” to one that receives funding that is in keeping with being a European nation.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “Citing health, culture minister Demakova resigns

  1. This resignation points out, in my opinion, some of the contradictions in LV politics. One is the level of misdirection that is allowed. Demakova is leaving because she has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and not just because of the Gaismas pils project. Yet she is allowed to direct attention to an entirely unrelated excuse. Bologna. As some friends have observed; her elbows are healthy and sharp enough to elbow through the forest of principles that she shoved aside but somehow not strong enough to actually stay in her job. The bigger contradiction is the characterization of problems as coming from “liberal ideology.” Might as well say it out-loud- DAMN THAT SOROS AND HIS SECRETIVE MINIONS! Sorry, but no. In most of the rest of the world, what she is talking about; merge museums and theatres, decrease funding etc. Those are conservative, free market ideologue ideas. “The culture sector should succeed or fail on its own, without govt help”- that is right wing. Yet we will allow them to make them liberal ideas here. Because of the electoral system where Saeima members are accountable primarily to their party leadership (elected from party lists) and not to a popular mandate, govt feels perfectly confident in ignoring its responsibilities to the people.

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