Saeima's silent members named and shamed

Take note – story published 5 years ago

An ongoing investigation by the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism, Re:Baltica, is drawing attention to an elusive sub-set of the Latvian political class: politicians who don't say anything.

Examining the data on how many Saeima sessions the 101 members of parliament attend and how many they actively participate in, it quickly becomes clear that while certain members are very active and regularly speak in debates and committee meetings, a substantial number rarely, if ever make their voice heard, raising suspicions that they are in fact little more than political placemen with no actual interest in their job.

"A Latvian proverb says that "speaking is silver, silence is golden". If you are a Saeima, at least for 13 members of the last parliament it is: you do not even need to worry about standing up, but still receive an average of 140,000 euros in four years and can calmly be elected again," says Re:Baltica.

Many, but not all, of the inactive MPs come from the Harmony party, which has strong support from Latvia's large Russian minority. But all parties seem to have their "What is he doing here?" members too.

A prime example of the silent faction among MPs is Harmony deputy Igors Zujevs. During the 38 months in which he has been an MP has hasn't managed to speak a single time, but has managed to contribute to a parliamentary document once, while collecting around 100,000 euros in wages and compensation. He has been elected to Saeima three times.

Further examples can be seen at the Re:Baltica website with many of those named having been elected multiple times from their party lists while contributing next to nothing to the work of the Saeima. The Re:Baltica twitter feed also names and shames many of the Saeima's sleeping members.

Re:Baltica is urging voters to think carefully before casting their votes in Saeima elections taking place October 6, particularly as the Latvian system allows voters to "de-select'' candidates they do not like in the party for which they are voting. Perhaps politicians who do nothing to represent the views of those who elected them deserve to have their names struck out.



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