Never before have Latvian politics seemed so interesting. Last week Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks resigned over the government's dismissal of Aleksejs Loskutovs, Latvia's anti-corruption chief. Regional Affairs Minister Aigars Stokenbergs was also dismissed related to that case.
But it seems a bit odd that the dismissal of one person could lead to the resignation of Pabriks, who is fairly well known outside of Latvia, as well as the throngs of protesters who called for Prime Minister Kalvītis to step down.
The Kalvītis government has been the most stable of Latvia's post-1991 governments. In the past five years, Latvia has had four prime ministers. Kalvītis has been the most successful. Come this December he will have been in office for three years.
A central plank of his government has been devoted to improving ties with Russia, casting Estonia as the more obstinate of the two in the border treaty issue, and making sure to smile for the camera in meetings like the one above. In fact, Kalvītis this week attempted to play the Moscow card in his attempt to stay in office despite calls for his resignation.
Underlying that improvement in relations with Russia has been allegations of corruption -- related to the Loskutovs affair -- as well as frustration with the government over dealing with Latvia's high level of inflation (11 percent). The selection of President Valdis Zatlers, an orthopedic surgeon, over the popular favorite Aivars Endziņš, also didn't help endear the Kalvītis government to its constituents.
It's odd that Latvia, though as close to Tartu as Tallinn, seems to figure minimally in Estonian domestic politics. I mean Latvia has been going through this period of rapprochement with Moscow at the same time that Estonian-Russian relations have sunk to a new low. I also don't see internal political changes in Latvia affecting Estonian politics.
Estonia is basically stuck with the coalition it has. The only room for maneuver would be for the Reform Party to dump its problematic partners in Isamaa-Res Publica Liit and re-ally with the Center Party. In this set up, Ansip would remain prime minister. Or Keskerakond could somehow attract SDE to form a left-wing coalition with the Greens and the People's Union. But that coalition would only have 51 seats -- not doable. Or Keskerakond could manipulate the rules of logic and ally with Isamaa and SDE.
Anyway you slice it, you come away understanding that Ansip's victory in March was pretty solid and he, or at least the Reform Party, isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Meaning that the Kalvītis show will be a purely Latvian matter for the time being.