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Ceturtdiena 20.09.2018 | Name days: Marianna, Ginters, Guntra

Court decides to keep in place restriction for Communist activists to take part in Saeima elections

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvia’s Constitutional Court has concluded that the section of the Law on Saeima Elections that prohibits people who worked in certain Soviet organizations after 13 January 1991 from participating in elections compliant with the country’s Constitution, as reported by the court’s representative Ketija Strazda.

The case was initiated following a complaint from Latvian Russians Union leader Tatyana Zhdanok regarding the restriction for Communist activists for participation in Saeima elections.

The Constitutional Court concluded that the contested regulation is one of democracy’s self-defence tools. With it, a democratic country protects its constitutional organs and state security institutions from people who may put at risk Latvia’s independence and democratic principles. A country ruled by democratic law has the authority to request people taking important posts in state administration to be loyal to the country and the country’s founding constitutional principles.

The Constitutional Court also concluded that the contested regulation is interpreted in a way that that it prohibits the right to become a candidate in Saeima elections for people who worked in Latvia’s Communist Party, Latvian PSR Workers’ International Front, the Joint Labour Collective Council, the War and Labour Veterans Organization, the All-Latvian Society Rescue Committee or its regional committees after 13 January 1991 and whose actions threatened and still threaten the independence and democratic principles of Latvia.

The Constitutional Court underlined that the Law on Saeima Elections includes a mechanism that allows for each case to be viewed individually in order to determine if the aforementioned restriction can be applied to certain people. After checking applied candidates, the Central Election Commission has to determine if the person in question creates risks for Latvia’s independence and democratic principles, as noted by Constitutional Court.

The court concluded that the restrictions included in the contested regulation were established in accordance with the law. The court studied if restrictions still have a legitimate goal behind them in accordance with existing degree of social and democratic development. The court concluded that the contested regulation’s legitimate goal is preventing people who put at risk independence and democracy of Latvia from taking part in Saeima elections. This means the contested regulation has a legitimate goal – protection of the country’s democratic structure.

The Constitutional Court also notes that the contested regulation is aimed not against the pluralism of ideas in Latvia or any person’s political views, but rather the people whose actions still put at risk Latvia’s independence and democratic principles. At the same time, the regulation does not prohibit people applied with said regulation from working in political parties and social organizations.

The court concluded that society’s benefit from the contested regulation exceeds the negative side.

The ruling of the Constitutional Court of Latvia is final and not subject to appeal. It also comes to force the day of its publication.

As previously reported, Zhdanok stepped down as a member of the European Parliament in March 2018. She also announced her plan to participate in Saeima elections even though she is not allowed because of restrictions of the law. Since then, she has taken active part in a protest act in support of Russian schools in Latvia. This matter is one of the most notable directions of Latvian Russian Union’s pre-election campaign.

Zhdanok previously mentioned having plans to manage Latvian Russians Union’s pre-election campaign. Still, her participation in elections will depend on the decision of the Constitutional Court.

Zhdanok decided to appeal in the Constitutional Court regulations of the Law on Saeima Elections that restrict access to elections for people who worked in Latvia’s Communist Party, Latvian PSR Workers’ International Front, the Joint Labor Collective Council, the War and Labor Veterans Organization, the All-Latvian Society Rescue Committee or its regional committees after 13 January 1991.

She believes this regulation does not comply with the Constitution, which states that Latvia is an independent democratic republic and that it is allowed to elect to the Saeima any Latvian citizen older than 21 and all people in Latvia are equal in the eyes of the law and their rights are respected with no discrimination.

As previously reported, Tatyana Zhdanok worked in the Communist party after 13 January 1991. Because of that, the law prohibits her from taking part in Saeima elections.

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