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Political Security – occasionally hanging by a thread

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The concept of political security is related to the stability of the operation of the state administration institutions, their legitimacy and ideological resilience, as well as the relations between the levels of power, their recognition and assessment.[24] The subjective perception of security within this context demonstrates the relationship between the residents and the power, which may increase the stability and facilitate the participation of the people or, just the opposite, create tension and even increase the potential of violence.

However, this concept hides a rather complicated set of mutually related factors which, just like separate bricks, form a theoretical “wall” which may be called political security – corruption, participation of residents in elections, government stability, its decisions and human rights, trust in public administration, relationships between the residents, local governments and the central power, etc.

The aforementioned matters have been subject to a lot of researches both in Latvia and elsewhere, and the scene in Latvia is not exciting. The matter of corruption has been reviewed in the section dedicated to the theme. The survey concerning the will of the society of Latvia to defend its country, conducted by the Centre for Security and Strategic Research at the National Defence Academy,[25] has led to the conclusion that 50% of the respondents trust in their local government, while 30% trust in the central government. The research reveals that trust in the local governments is higher than that in the central government, since the leaders of the local governments are closer to the residents, they are easier to reach, and the local achievements are obvious in terms of territorial development.

At the same time, the survey of the “Political Participation of Youth in Latvia: Characterisation of the Situation and Analysis of Participation Factors (Determinants)” [26] has led to a finding that young people’s interest in politics is explicitly low, their representation of politics is negative, furthermore, there is no opinion leader among young people, and a similar situation can be observed also in the survey regarding the participation of minorities in the democratic processes in Latvia – although the survey participants state that the interest of minorities to engage in the political processes is relatively high, at the same time, they have poor assurance that this would change the situation at the level of Saeima, government or local governments.[27]

A more comprehensive index titled “Political Participation of Youth in the EU”, although 10 years old, is available at https://www.tandfonline.com.[33] It shows that, in terms of the political participation of the youth, Latvia is the leader (83% of the youth engage in political activities), followed by Estonia (74%), Poland (72%) and Lithuania (67%), while no data related to such or similar survey about Moldova is available.

Within the context of low activity of the residents during the parliamentary elections (for example, in the 13th Saeima elections in Latvia – 54.46%, of the residents voted, and in the 14th Saeima elections – 59.41% of the residents voted), the aforementioned data primitively outlines potentially unwelcome trends – disbelief in being able to change something and a potential situation where the nationwide processes will be affected by a comparatively small percentage of electorate, who will possibly be attracted to the country by unwanted elements – not the friendliest ones for the state. In combination with activities taken by no less unfriendly countries to address just this part of the electorate, the possible result is not only political inconsistency of the political course and a slow-down of its economic development, but also an increased vulnerability within both the political and military security spheres.

Low election activity is also faced in Lithuania – in the first round of the parliamentary elections in 2020 only 47% of the voters participated; in the second round – 39% of eligible voters participated, thus even lagging behind Moldova, where 47.51% of eligible voters participated in the parliamentary elections in 2021.[35], [36] During the recent parliamentary elections in Estonia, the participation rate was just 63.53% (a decrease of 0.14 percentage points compared to the previous elections)[37], while the participation rate in the parliamentary elections in 2019 in Poland was 61.74%.[38].

One has to admit that Poland has taken measures aimed to increase the election activity by passing a law shortly before this year’s elections providing for the arrangement of polling stations also in villages with 200 residents and stipulating that the residents older than 60 years and those with disabilities must be provided with transport to the polling stations if public transport is not available.[34]

Although surveys related to political security are not conducted too often – according to the data available on the Global Web, the latest considerable activities in this area accompanied by public description were conducted more than 15 years ago – TheGlobalEconomy.com compiles the political stability index (inseparably related to political security) assessing the political stability of all the global countries on a scale between minus 2.5 and up to 2.5.[28]

Of the five countries in question, the higher positions in this list are taken by the Baltic States: Lithuania takes the 19th place in Europe (globally – 48), Estonia – 20th (51), slightly passing Latvia which takes the 24th position (57), whereas Poland is in the 31st place (71), but Moldova – in the 40th place (109).

Being aware of the geopolitical context, the activities of special services of certain aggressor countries, as well as the previous passivity of voters leading to election activity below the mark of two thirds, there is a reason to assume that significant changes in the next index are very possible.

[24] https://www.apgads.lu.lv/en/izdevumi/brivpieejas-izdevumi/rakstu-krajumi/latvijas-iedzivotaju-subjektiva-drosibas-uztvere/politiska-drosiba/

[25] Bērziņa, I., Zupa, U. (2020). The Willingness of Latvian Society to Defend Their Country: Stimulating and Impeding Factors. Riga: The Centre for Security and Strategic Research at the National Defence Academy, p. 14.

[26] Exocol Latvia (2015). The Political Participation of the Youth in Latvia: the Characterisation of the Situation and Analysis of the Participation Factors (Determinants). Riga: The National Youth Council of Latvia

[27] Study The “Participation of Minorities in the Democratic Processes in Latvia” (2015). Riga: The Baltic Institute of Social Science, p. 51.

[28] https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/rankings/wb_political_stability/Europe/

[33] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13676261.2019.1636951

[34] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/polish-parliament-passes-new-election-rules-ahead-2023-vote-2023-01-27/

[35] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Lithuanian_parliamentary_election

[36] https://www.electionguide.org/countries/id/142/

[37] https://www.electionguide.org/countries/id/69/

[38] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Poland

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