One of the most left leaning politicians of Latvia, current chairperson of Education, Culture and Science Committee Ilze Viņķele announced that she is putting down her MP mandate because of a scholarship she has received from McCain institute in Arizona as a chance to study the best practices of engaging women and youth in politics, work with electorate etc. The course of studies is for one year. She is emphasizing of being the first person from Latvia gaining this scholarship. She also expresses satisfaction, that this knowledge will be useful for work with her newly established party.
This party is known for gathering Latvian liberal-leftist elite, mostly active in social media. In fact, there are already several parties with similar ideological background in Latvia sharing particularly small ultraliberal electorate of Latvia, but none of them is big or influential in political field; the party “Movement FOR!” is the most recent of these political forces. This will also be the fourth political party of Ilze Viņķele, who has played significant role in splitting the previous political groups she has been involved in.
The politician is mostly known in Latvian society for her so called “Viņķele’s books” – children books issued during the time she held a position as the minister of welfare with her foreword for the methodological material. These books teaching the new-left dogma inspiring the gender-neutral approach to small children were spread out in kindergartens and raised a huge scandal among the parents, who even demanded her demission.
She also gained a negative popularity for being exceptionally rude toward her opponent during the TV debates regarding the question of terrorism in Europe and its ties with immigration. Also, she is known for her fight against the attempts to increase social benefits for parenting in order to improve the critically low demographic situation in Latvia during the time when she was the minister of welfare. She even claimed publicly, that she signed the demography agreement with hope not to fulfil it.
Other remarkable moments of her political activities is the consideration of the possibility to involve pro-kremlin “United Russia” cooperation party social democrats “Harmony” in Latvian government coalition, and support for Latvia’s (still not happened) joining the Istanbul convention, which, according to the analysis of Ministry of Justice would lead Latvia to violate its own constitution, which defines and protects the marriage as union between a man and a woman.
Knowing the close ties between McCain and multibillionaire, “father” of Open Society concept George Soros the news about leftist activists receiving scholarships from this institute should not come as a surprise. However, it caused some amazement in Latvia, because of the fact, that the Latvian leftist will study in the International Republican (!) Institute. Latvian nationalists and traditionalists tend to associate the name of Republicans with such important rightwing figures as Ronald Reagan (still causing warm memories on this side of iron curtain due to his personal investment in crushing the USSR) and current POTUS Donald Trump, while the Open Society related sentiments are usually associated with Democrats or, even worse, Antifa.