Activities in the area of legislation
Proposals on Constitutional Amendments from President of Latvia
Draft Amendments to the Latvian Constitution in Relation to the Functions of the President Under the Framework of a Parliamentary Democracy
On June 17, 2010, speaking to the outgoing 9th Saeima, and on November 2, 2010, speaking to the incoming 10th Saeima, President Zatlers called for a debate about reforming the Latvian Constitution, which is the basic law of the parliamentary republic. On August 10, 2010, the President asked his Constitutional Law Commission to prepare views about the functions of the President in a parliamentary democracy, the aim being to see whether the regulations which are in the Constitution might need updating.
The commission’s conclusions about this issue were based on a scholarly and analytical study which allowed the President to present legislative initiatives in relation to constitutional amendments. The aim is to improve the balance of power in the country and to ensure more effective mechanisms for decision making by strengthening the role of the President as a politically neutral arbitrator in terms of the relationship between the legislative and the executive branch of the government. The central issue has to do with the role of the President in a modern parliamentary republic. As President Zatlers said when addressing the newly elected 10th Saeima, it is only the development of Latvia’s political and legal system that can ensure our country’s economic growth and the welfare of the people.
That is why the President has chosen to submit the following legislative initiatives on the basis of the rights that are given to him in Section 47 of the Constitution.
On amendments to the Latvian Constitution to grant permanent rights to the President and to the people of Latvia to decide on pre-term dissolution of Parliament
On January 21, 2009, President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers submitted draft amendments to the Constitution of Latvia to the Saeima (Parliament), thus taking advantage of the right of legislative initiative which is granted to him in the Constitution.
The proposed amendments would allow one-tenth of voters to demand a referendum on dissolution of the Saeima. The Saeima would be dissolved if a majority of voters were to vote in the referendum, and if the number of “yes” votes would be equal to at least two-thirds of the number of people who voted in the previous parliamentary election.
A second proposal is that during situations of parliamentary crisis, the president would have the right to dissolve the Saeima and announce a new parliamentary election no later than two months after the dissolution. Examples of such a crisis situation would include a long-lasting inability to adopt a national budget or to confirm a new government, failure to ensure a quorum at Saeima meetings, or a situation in which it is necessary for the Saeima to have the direct support of the people in relation to a particularly important question.
Information prepared by:
Presidential advisor on juridical issues
April 7, 2011