THE FINANCIAL CRISIS AND THE DISCOURSES OF LATVIA’S POLITICAL PARTIES
Keywords:Financial crisis, political party discourses, knowledge
At the end of 2008, Latvia’s population found out about the financial problems of one of Latvia’s largest banks. At first, politicians stated that there were no grounds for concern and that there was no crisis, but just a couple of weeks later the opposite turned out to be true. Accordingly, the Saeima made a number of decisions that met with mixed reactions in society, also including amendments to tax laws. At the same time, the Cabinet also made decisions about public expenditure cuts and redundancies, and entered negotiations with the International Monetary Fund about a loan for the Republic of Latvia. Nationally, unemployment grew as did socio-economic tension. At the start of 2009, together with 25 public organisations and trade unions, the political organisation Sabiedrība citai politikai (the Society for Political Change) (Diena, 13 January 2009) came forth with a proclamation - "An invitation to the Latvian people", asking State President Valdis Zatlers to dissolve the 9th Saeima, as well as demanding the election of a new Saeima and establishment of fair, honest, democratic and competent executive government. At the end of the announcement, an invitation was made to everybody to attend a meeting of the people on 13 January in Dome Square.
The study analyses the rhetoric of political values in the six biggest national newspapers in an attempt to clarify the information that Latvian society received from politicians. Using one word or another, people create a certain social reality. Concepts and metaphors reflect belief systems and the thoughts, on the basis of which the speaker acts. Within the framework of the study, the authors try to answer the question of what society discovered about the aims and actions of politicians during the resolution of the economic crisis, which generated a lack of confidence, which prompted people to unite and demand the dissolution of the Saeima.People observe the political rhetoric within the public discourse and the study data show that that which society gleaned from political discourses was: a failure to search for a definition of a single concept; emotional saturation within the rhetoric of politicians containing mutual offence, irony and metaphors; over-definition of the essence of the subject; self-presentation redefining one’s beliefs depending on the position in the current situation; use of negative statements which reduce the potential discussion space; use of prior assumption relating this to the practice of intimidation; frequent use of meta-discourse; naming of the agenda of the day by the position. Observing the structure of such a discourse, the general public felt a sense of disappointment and sensed that finding welfare-based solutions to the problems caused by the financial crisis was not the basis for the battles between politicians. Accordingly, people found themselves unable to trust the information provided by political forces within the public space and experienced a double loss of freedom. (Raz.J., 2001 ) The situation subjected to an analysis of the rhetorical values of politicians shows that politicians engage in constant manipulation by redefining the nature of the subject, disclosing facts about others and presenting themselves by reformulating their beliefs depending on the environment and the situation. Such conduct reduces people’s abilities to make decisions. Latvian society is experiencing a double loss of freedom, firstly through the manipulation of politicians who restrict available information and reduce opportunities for action, and secondly, due to the economic crisis which reduces people's autonomy, compelling people to focus every thought and action on the goal of self-preservation.