This chapter provides a short explanation of the fall of the Latvian left
from historical prominence to modern infamy, followed by an analysis of the
surprising lack of resurrection of the left in spite of harsh austerity
measures imposed in the Latvia, and the impact of the Latvian
cross-ideological consensus on the future of the EU. As a result, three
central arguments are presented in the context of the financial crisis and
the left. First, Latvian politics saw a self-induced relabelling of some
parties from ethnic issues to social democratic ones. Second, some social
democratic politicians and their policies were incorporated into government.
Third, economic social democracy becoming a part of catch-all programmes of
Latvian political parties.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.