Latvians overwhelmingly oppose joining euro, but will do so anyway on Jan 1
European democratic deficit problem raised again, as another European country is forced to join the euro at the beginning of the new year despite massive public opposition
In what critics are characterising as another cynical blow to European democracy, the Baltic state of Latvia, which joined the European Union in 2004 and was once a part of the Soviet Union, will adopt the euro on January 1, 2014 even as opinion polls show 60 percent of the people are against the move.
At taxpayers' expense from countries including Britain, the European Central Bank (ECB) has spent millions on propaganda material and videos to persuade ordinary Latvians of the euro's alleged benefits, as this report from the ECB indicates.
The Latvian News Agency quoted the head of the so-called "euro communication group" Margrieta Ulmane as saying the campaign had been a "success". The Latvian News Agency said this was because:
"According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Factum, 98 percent of respondents knew the day Latvia was to switch to the euro, and 76 percent said they had enough information about the euro introduction process in Latvia."
However, the polling evidence from Factum and other polling agencies on whether Latvians actually wanted the euro went unreported, as this short note from EU Observer, partially attributed to French news agency AFP, makes clear:
"Latvia will join the euro on 1 January but nearly 60 percent of Latvians oppose the single currency....Latvians have endured steep wage cuts, rather than Lat devaluation, as the government sought to get the country out of economic crisis while keeping on track to join the euro," it said..
Latvians were not allowed a referendum on joining the euro, since leading politicians were afraid the public would reject it. There is much public anger at what is going on (see picture of European flag being burned in protest at eurozone membership at the top of this report).
It is a matter of public record that the European Union has ignored unfavourable results in referendums on major European issues including in France and the Netherlands.
Ireland voted against the Nice Treaty in 2001 and the Lisbon Treaty in 2008. In both cases it was forced to hold repeats of the referendums until it gave a "yes" vote to what Brussels was proposing. In the end, it did so.
Eurosceptics blame the euro for exacerbating economic crisis in many European countries, such as Greece, Spain, Ireland and Italy, a message which has been widely discussed in the Latvian press.
Members of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), want Britain -- not a member of the euro -- to leave the European Union altogether, and do so as fast as possible. The party has widely condemned the move to force Latvia to join the euro in the face of a hostile public.
"Latvia, as a Baltic state, used to be part of the Soviet Union," said one UKIP voter with expertise in Eastern Europe. "This is terribly anti-democratic", he told The Commentator. "No wonder they're burning flags."
The European Union aims to get all 28 members of the EU to join the euro at some point. Latvia will become the 18th member of the eurozone at the beginning of 2014.
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