Rīga a "showroom for social democratic policy" says mayor

Take note – story published 6 years ago

The mayor of Riga, Nils Ušakovs, told a pan-European gathering of Socialist and Social Democrat parties that he is in the process of turning Riga and other cities into a "showroom for social democratic policy."

Speaking in English and sharing a platform with speakers including Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK's Labour Party, at a meeting of European Socialist Parties in Lisbon on December 1-2 Ušakovs said:

"Back in 2009 we won elections in Riga and a number of other cities. And since that time, we're using cities as a showroom for social democratic policy, showing our citizens what can be done if you have social democrats in power."

"We are introducing new elements of social democratic policies," Ušakovs added, without specifying which policies might be characterized as such and even adding that "right-wing parties" had tried to copy Saskana's policies.

However, he did not mention that his Saskana party operates joint election lists with the decidedly non-Social Democratic "Gods Kalpot Mūsu Latvijai" (Honor To Serve Our Latvia, GLK) party which is widely seen as oligarchic and socially conservative in nature. 

GKL in turn recently teamed up with the "Christian Democratic Alliance" to oppose the signing of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Their objections are based on evangelical and "defense of family values" grounds. Some of Saskana's own members of parliament, such as Julija Stepanenko, are also outspoken opponents of what might be expected to be a fairly obvious Social Democrat policy.

In contrast he lambasted Latvian governments since 2009 as being "extremely conservative and right wing."

"Cities, by definition, are left," the mayor said, urging his European colleagues to concentrate on urban centers to win support.

"Mayors can connect the high values of the European Union with the basic needs of their citizens," he said, urging the creation of a Socialist and Social Democratic network of such mayors across the continent.

The video of the speech, below, was posted to Ušakovs' own YouTube channel and promoted on that network.



As reported by LSM, Saskana was recently given full membership status in the Party of European Socialists. However, the party's sole MEP, former journalist Andrejs Mamikins, is causing the party a headache by talking about a possible break with Saskana in order to form his own party.

Mamikins has come under heavy criticism (though as yet no censure from his party) for offering solid support to the Assad regime and the presence of Russian forces in Syria, as previously reported by LSM.

At Saskana's own party congress last weekend, Ušakovs said that while nominating candidates for the European Parliament, the party made mistakes, though he did not mention Mamikins by name.

Meanwhile Mamikins has said that "Harmony" had shifted away from representing the Russian community of Latvia and signalled an intention to form his own organization with a view to possibly becoming a party.

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