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Ceturtdiena 02.04.2020 | Name days: Imgarde, Irmgarde
LatviaLatvia

Signature collection for a referendum on municipal snap election regulations fails

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CVK, Riga City Council, referendum, signature collectionAccording to provisional results from the Central Election Commission (CVK), it has not been possible to collect enough signatures to initiate a referendum over Saeima’s approved changes to municipal snap elections regulations.

Signature collection was commenced following a request from Saeima opposition.

As reported by CVK representative Laura Zaharova, data compiled from nearly all locations shows that 5 095 residents have signed the initiative in favour of organizing a referendum on amendments to the Law on Elections of the Republic City Council and Municipality Council and 4 995 voters have signed in favour of amendments of the Law on Local Governments (3.3% and 3.2% of the necessary number of votes respectively).

In order to organize a referendum over the aforementioned laws, it was necessary for no less than one-tenth of the number of vote-worthy Latvian citizens from the last Saeima elections or 154 868 to have provided signatures in favour of it.

Read also: Those with voting rights are slow to sign referendum for municipal election regulations

To set the final result of the signature collection, CVK will count paper and electronic ballots. After it is done, it will be possible to see which residents had voted and which have not. It will also be possible to check if anyone has voted multiple times.

The meeting during which it is planned to approve results is currently scheduled for 19 February. Once results have been approved they will be reported to President Egils Levits and sent for publication in the Latvian Herald.

According to the Constitution, if a necessary number of votes for a referendum is not collected within two months, law amendments are to be published.

This means amendments to the law will come to force and will apply to upcoming snap elections in Riga, allowing the election term for the next Riga City Council to be slightly longer than five years instead of the usual four years.

As it is known, law amendments provide for a municipal council to be elected for more than four years. Parties of the ruling coalition that are in the opposition in Riga City Council have been criticized for law amendments: that amendments were developed specifically for snap elections in Riga, using the conflict between Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga to create better conditions for themselves to take over and establish a foothold in the capital.

Amendments also provide for appointing an interim administration for a nine-month term if a city council is dismissed. The current permitted term is 15 months, and, according to authors of amendments, the current order of things is unacceptable, because the period of time when a municipality is headed by people not elected to the administration and who lack trust from local residents is too long.

Following a request from the opposition, President Egils Levits halted the approval of the two aforementioned laws. Levits was supposed to act this way in accordance with the Constitution.

On 13 February the Saeima decided to dissolve Riga City Council. The legislative draft that provides this now needs to be promulgated by the president. In order for a city council to be elected for a longer term, the president needs to first promulgate the halted amendments and then the decision on Riga City Council’s dissolution.


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