Tag Archives: Saeima

Latvia fires its Parliament

Latvians have voted massively to dissolve their parliament after a historical referendum. Almost 95 percent of voters want new general elections and the dismissal of the current Saeima.

Counting began shortly after ballots were closed – 23 hours local time – and according to the Central Election Commission participants have expressed their wish to dissolve the the Latvian Parliament.

More than 682,000 citizens voted in the referendum that saw an important turnout along the Gulf of Rīga. Saulkrasti County, on the gulf’s eastern side, registered a turnout of nearly 143 percent thanks, partly, to voters from outside the district who casted ballots there.

Vidzeme province had the highest participation – 54.16 percent – followed by Kurzeme at 53.04 and Zemgale at 47.61 percent. On the other hand, Latgale had the lowest, 34.60 percent. The capital of Rīga also had a low turnout: 36.46 percent.

Latvians living abroad had also the opportunity to take part in the historical referendum, the first of such kind in the Baltic country’s history.

“I voted for the dissolution of the Saeima. I want to bring to an end the influence of oligarchs in Latvia,” said student Ilze Zake.

“Hopefully, today’s result will help to draw a different political map in Latvia. However, we have to vote smartly, making sure that a new political elite takes over.”

CORRUPTION

Former president Valdis Zatlers called for the vote in late May. The Parliament had refused to lift the immunity of MPs after the anti-corruption office, KNAB, requested to search the house of parliament deputy and businessman Ainars Slesers, suspected of being involved in corruption deals.

He also denounced the influence of “business oligarchs” in Latvian politics. Mr Zatlers was ousted just one week later by the parliament, but has since founded a new political party.

“I had enough of living in a Latvia based on lies, cynicism and greed,” said the former president.

“We need to be honest before ourselves; Latvia is considered a small mafia state, and this is not the best reputation for a country,” Mr Zatlers told the LNT.

Latvia, who joined the EU in 2004, has long been dogged by corruption. The country is still emerging from the economic crunch – its economy fell 18 percent in 2009 due to strict budget cuts.

Elections are now expected to be held in September.

The last election in Latvia was only last October. It is expected that Mr Zatlers and allies – including PM Valdis Dombrovskis – will do well.

Mr Dombrovskis said this week; “A main goal of the elections will be to ensure that oligarchs, and the parties supporting oligarchs, do not control a majority in the next parliament. If this happens, then I would say the former president’s initiative of dissolving the parliament will pay off.”

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Citizenship Law in Latvia

The citizenship law in the Baltic country could often lead to confusion for outsiders who try to understand the country’s context.

It is completely necessary to look at Latvia’s history, even if it’s briefly. We have to go back to the 1940s. Following the German occupation (1941-1944), Latvia was then annexed into the Soviet Union. The occupation lasted until 1991 – when Latvia regained its fully independence. The polls showed and overwhelming feeling to acquire the longed dream. Continue reading

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5 articles on Social Integration in Latvia

 

1.- Saeima member Ainar Slesers proposes granting Latvian citizenship to foreigners who donate EUR 1 million. Slesers (For A Good Latvia) considers this a measure that will increase the country’s income and allow wealthy foreigners apply for Latvian citizenship. According to the MP there could be “up to 10,000 families” who could receive the Latvian passport. (Read more)

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Debate on Citizenship Law


Riga, capital of Latvia

Latvian society’s shape has changed over the last twenty years. More than 15 years ago Latvia adopted its Citizenship Law in order to give firm framework on the country’s society, especially regarding those former USSR citizens. And in 2004 the Baltic state joined the EU. Altogether has given Latvia’s society a different shape from its first years of independence.

Nowadays there are lot of young Latvians who have settled in other countries seeking work opportunities and a better future. We can also see a whole generation of descendants of non-citizens who has grown up in the country. Those are only couple of examples that some politicians in the Baltic country are setting in order to justify the necessity of amendments.

The debate is on and even the President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers, whose term finishes next summer, has stepped in to speak out about the issue. Mr Zatlers proposes to:

  • Lift the limitations on Latvian citizens, and their descendants, exiled, those who were forced to leave the country or were deported in the past and could not return.
  • Amend the Citizenship Law regarding the will to grant dual citizenship to children of Latvian citizens who were born abroad and have decided to live abroad.

Nationalist parties have proposed amendments on the law as well. Even the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība, or PBLA) and the European Latvian Association (Eiropas Latviešu apvienība, or ELA) both back the president’s proposals regarding dual citizenship.

A Saeima commission is to begin discussion on proposals to pass a new bill on Citizenship. It is worth mentioning that last September a similar bill was given to the Saeima Legal Affairs Committee, but the 9th Saeima did not have time to review the bill.

So we will have to pay attention at Saeima’s next step and how the government and the country reacts toward it.

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