- Why is Karlis Ulmanis still so highly thought of?
I don’t understand why a man who overthrew a democratically elected government, banned all political parties including his own, disbanded the Saeima (parliament), appointed himself President, Prime Minister and Head of the Armed forces is still so popular. I accept that he didn’t murder thousands of people, but no other dictator in Europe between the wars did what he did. It wasn’t as though his star was shining brightly at the time of the Coup d’etat. Before the coup in 1934 his party only achieve 12.2% of the popular vote in the parliamentary elections. The only 2 claims that can be made for this period which can be verified are improvements to the education system and development of Latvian cultural identity. From my perspective, based upon what I have read by Latvian academics, Ulmanis was simply a megalomaniac.
- Where has the Latvian motivation and desire to instigate change disappeared to?
Between 1988 and 1990 Latvians demonstrated amazing courage and fortitude to rid themselves of their Russian occupiers. Having done the very difficult part and gained independence all they seem to do now is complain, but don’t seem prepared to do anything about it. They complain about the unfair tax system, the success of other Latvians, the dreadful roads but mainly about the perceived high levels of corruption. Yet, I don’t hear about any protests or demonstrations and only 59% voted at the last election for the Saeima (parliament). I often hear people say “it doesn’t matter who I vote for, because nothing will change”, so they don’t vote. Why has this apathy towards instigating change surfaced? I don’t understand.
- Finally do Latvians really know what democracy is or do they even want it?
I have come to the conclusion that Latvians think they want Democracy but don’t really know what it is, and the commitment required by individual groups in a society to make it work. I have heard it said that countries without a sizable middle class struggle to make a success of democracy. That was certainly the case between the 2 world wars.
Please help me understand more about the Latvian psyche. I welcome your comments and opinions