The Progressives (Latvian: Progresīvie, Latvian: ['pɾɔgɾesiːviɛ]) is a social-democratic political party in Latvia. The party was founded on February 25, 2017. Since September 14, 2019 its leaders have been Antoņina Ņenaševa and Edmunds Cepurītis.
The Progressives currently do not hold any seats in the Saeima or European Parliament, but they have significant representation in the Riga City Council.
Ideology and goals
The Progressives have stated that one of their main goals is implementing the Nordic welfare model in Latvia (the party's political programme is even called "Turning towards the Nordic countries"). The party's principles include implementation of a progressive tax system, responsibility towards the environment, fighting against corruption and the shadow economy, an active state role in the economy, dropping GDP as the main measure of development (in favour of others which take the well-being of society into account such as the Happiness index), gender and LGBT equality.
Nationality and identity
The party wishes to abolish Latvia's non-citizen status, held by over 10% of the national population, by gradually granting non-citizens citizenship status. As an initial measure, the Progressives support a policy of automatically granting Latvian citizenship to any child born to permanent residents, regardless of whether or not they have citizenship themselves or whether they were born before or after Latvia's independence. In addition, they want to immediately enfranchise permanent residents to vote in local elections after reaching the age of 16, even if they do not hold citizenship. The party is supportive of dual citizenship among the Latvian diaspora. It supports further state funding for Latvian-language education (as well as a 0% VAT on books published in Latvian) and the granting of free Latvian courses for returning migrants and asylum seekers, while at the same time also supporting minority languages in the school curriculum as a form of cultural diversity. They define themselves as inclusive and oppose ethnic segregation and discrimination.
The Progressives subscribe to a Pro-Europeanist ideology and support Latvia's membership in NATO. They are in favour of an EU army and believe that the EU should become a United Nations Security Council permanent member state, while at the same time desiring to abolish permanent members' singular veto power.
They condemn what they dub the "aggressive policy of the Russian ruling regime", while at the same time expressing a desire for improved relations with both Russia and Belarus, which they opine would happen through "democratic processes" in these nations. They do not recognize the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and call for an investigation into what they dub as "human rights violations in Russian-occupied Crimea".
The Progressives call on the Latvian state to abandon neoliberal economic policies and the "Russian-style" of restraint toward economic interventionism, instead calling for active state participation in the national economy. They are in favour of trade diversification aimed at reducing Latvia's dependence on Russian cargo and advocate for state funding for small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and companies that adhere to their social and environmental criteria.
The party is a successor of a social-democratic NGO of the same name (Latvian: biedrība "Progresīvie") that was founded on March 26, 2011 and led by Ansis Dobelis. The Progressives participated in the 2017 Latvian municipal elections in four municipalities. In two of these, Aizpute and Mārupe Municipality, they won seats on the local councils.
The Progressives participated in the 2018 Latvian parliamentary election. Prior to the election, they declined to join an alliance with the center to right-wing liberal parties, which was later created without the Progressives as Development/For!. They argued that staying out of the alliance was necessary to ensure that the party's left-wing policies and high standard for political donations were not compromised. The Progressives had a unique gender parity principle on their ballots, with all election list leaders being women. Their candidate for Prime Minister was Roberts Putnis. The party did not win any seats in the Saeima, receiving only 2.61% of the vote, but qualifying for state funding of €15,000 per year for surpassing the 2% threshold.
In 2019, the Progressives participated in the European Parliament election. They ran with the slogan "More Europe" on a federalist platform, with their main proposals concerning social policy and green politics. Although polling at 4.5% in March and 4.3% in April they ultimately received only 2.9% of the vote. After the election, on 28 May, Roberts Putnis resigned as party leader. That year they also organized a small protest against the Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria in front of the Turkish embassy in Riga, as well as pickets against a labour law reform that was deemed to degrade workers rights and weaken labour unions.
In early 2020, the Riga City Council was dismissed and a snap election was called. Due to technicalities and the COVID-19 pandemic, the election was postponed until 29 August. The Progressives formed a common electoral list with the liberal Development/For! alliance, claiming that ideological differences are not as important at the local level and stressed the importance of toppling Riga's ruling SDP Harmony–Honor to serve Riga coalition that had been involved in multiple corruption scandals. The common electoral list won the election with 18 out of 60 seats, of which nine were members of the Progressives and 2 were independent city activists with ties to the Progressives. The Progressives' member Mārtiņš Kossovičs chairs the common City Council group of Development/For! and the Progressives, Edmunds Cepurītis is the chair of the housing and environment committee, and Viesturs Kleinbergs is the chair of the social issues committee.
Riga City Council
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- ^ Population of Latvia by nationality; Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs 1 January 2020.(in Latvian)
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- ^ LETA (2019-10-21). "Foto: Cilvēki pie Turcijas vēstniecības Rīgā protestē pret agresiju Sīrijā". delfi.lv (in Latvian). Retrieved 2020-07-01.
- ^ LETA (2020-10-06). "Riga City Council approves new heads of committees". BNN. Retrieved 2020-10-13.