President tells lawmakers to clean up

The sword of Damocles hangs over the heads of some politicians, President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga said in her final speech to Latvia’a parliament, and the Saeima and the nation’s political parties should clean up their acts to maintain the trust of voters.

Although she said she sees no cause to dissolve parliament—as some critics of the current Saeima have called for—the president nonetheless used the June 21 speech to urge the state prosecutor’s office to step up its investigation of corruption among politicians, according to the text of the speech provided by the president’s press office.

“Already the sword of Damocles hangs over the heads of some,” Vīķe-Freiberga said, referring to the mythical blade that symbolizes impending peril. “It hangs by a hair and we do not yet know where and when it will fall. If we live in a just state, then it will have to fall sometime.”

Vīķe-Freiberga’s speech came 17 days before her term in office runs out July 7 and a national referendum is scheduled on amendments to two national security laws. The controversial amendments, pushed through by the Cabinet of Ministers and approved by the Saeima, have already been rescinded, but critics have said the referendum may serve as a symbolic vote of confidence in the work of Latvia’s politicians.

She called on all political parties to carefully review their activities and financial resources, as well as to review party members, including those who were elected to the 9th Saeima. If those parties still want to be active and represented in the 10th and 11th parliaments, Vīke-Freiberga warned, they should separate the Biblical goats from the sheep.

The president also called on Latvian citizens to become more involved in politics.

“There would be no reason to dissolve whichever Saeima in whichever time, if in the ensuing elections there would not be serious, new candidate lists to offer in place of those already known,” she said.

Although she scolded politicians, the president also thanked lawmakers for their cooperation in developing democracy in Latvia.

The president also discussed the power of her position, her achievements and the nation’s future.

Vīķe-Freiberga is in the final weeks of her presidency. The second of her four-year terms ends July 7. She will be replaced by Valdis Zatlers, a medical doctor elected president May 31 in a 58-39 vote of the Saeima.

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

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