Amendments to Constitution planned to alter referendum initiation procedure

  • 2012-02-21

President Berzins (right) and Saeima Speaker Solvita Aboltina

RIGA - President Andris Berzins and Saeima Chairwoman Solvita Aboltina (Unity) met in Riga Castle on Feb. 20 to discuss the need to amend the Constitution in order to change the procedure for initiating a nationwide referendum.

Aboltina told reporters that the minimum number of signatures for initiating a referendum would be altered. "I will not give you any exact figures, but apparently the number that may dictate the rules and the political agenda for the majority of society is too small - as clearly indicated by the referendum results," said Aboltina.

In Aboltina's opinion, such amendments are necessary "so that the minority is not able to dictate rules for the majority in a democratic country."

The amendments will be discussed in detail after the Constitutional Rights Commission presents its opinion, also regarding the proposal to set in the Constitution that several articles thereof may not be amended.

Berzins' press secretary Liga Krapane said she did not know how much time the work on the commission's report could take.

President's Press Office informed LETA that Berzins and Aboltina agreed that amendments to the Constitution, which would provide for greater protection of the fundamental values of the state, as well as more stringent rules on referendum campaign funding, must be agreed upon as soon as possible. Both officials hope that the Constitutional Rights Commission's report could be released in the near future.

Amending the Citizenship Law in order to ease the regulations on dual citizenship was recognized as a top priority at today's meeting. Berzins plans to discuss the pending amendments with Ingmars Caklais (Unity), the MP in charge of the amendments.

Berzins and Aboltina also discussed pending Latvia's energy policy, where Latvia currently often has no position on the regional energy projects, and strengthening the national economy so people who have left Latvia during the crisis, but supported the Latvian language at the referendum, could return home.

Aboltina said that the state should also consider those 25 percent of citizens "who do not feel comfortable in Latvia." As the main tasks in this regard, Aboltina mentioned more Latvian classes for adults, kindergartens with Latvian as the instruction language, and consolidating the education system, so school pupils and students would be taught not only Latvian but also the foundations, the culture and history of Latvia.