Latvia in top three post-Communist countries on democracy

Latvia is behind only Estonia and Slovenia in the progress it has made developing its democracy since the end of totalitarianism 25 years ago, according to the latest report from democracy organization Freedom House.

The annual assessment of the so-called 'Nations in Transit' from Freedom House was presented in Riga by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA) and supported by the US embassy.

US-based Freedom House was founded in 1941 and describes itself as "an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world."

LIIA deputy director Karlis Bukovskis gave LSM a preview of the findings, which give Latvia a rating of 2.07 (the lower the better) behind only Estonia (1.93) and Slovenia (2.00) and ahead of Lithuania (2.32), Poland (2.32) and particularly Hungary which has nosedived under authoritarian leader Viktor Orban to a score of 3.29.

Freedom House report 2016

    Latvia's score actually remains unchanged from 2015 but with many countries backsliding, it firmed up its third place.

    "The year 2015 was characterized by contradicting trends in Latvia. While democracy further consolidated in the country, illiberal strands appeared in the domestic political discourse, and an ideological struggle over so-called traditional values became more visible. Pro-Russian politicians were especially engaged, and numerous discussions took place on conservative 'family values' in schools and ethical behavior in the public domain," Freedom House said.

    "The European Commission’s plans to resettle refugees from the Middle East and Africa in EU countries prompted heated political discussions in the second half of the year. The Latvian public’s initial reaction to the plan was characterized by a lack of understanding and fears around integration," the report adds.

    As for this year, Freedom House predicts more of the same, saying: "The reshuffled coalition will remain in power, and once a new government is formed, 2016 is expected to be politically stable. Discussion of conservative “family values” will continue, not only as a reaction to the influx of people with different religious and cultural backgrounds but also because some political parties have chosen to seek support through increasing control over 'morality.'"

    You can read the full country report in Latvia HERE.

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