Latvian Parliament fails ombudsman elections

  • 2007-01-12
  • By TBT staff
The Latvian parliament held three rounds of voting on Jan. 11, but nevertheless failed to elect the ombudsman. The last round was only for one candidate, the University of Latvia professor Ringolds Balodis, nominated by the ruling People's Party, but he received 44 votes for and 47 votes against at the 100-member parliament.

In the first two rounds the MPs voted for two candidates - Balodis and US political scientist of Latvian descent, Rasma Karklina, who was nominated by the ruling nationalist party For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TB/LNNK), but none of the candidates won sufficient support.

In April last year the parliament passed a bill about introducing in Latvia the ombudsman institution from Jan. 1, 2007.
Under the new law, the ombudsman's office will not only be an intermediary between the state and residents, consult individuals, promote solving complaints by settlement, but will also unload the court system by finding ways to solve situations easier and faster.

In her turn, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga thinks that the three failed votes on appointment of the ombudsman was the parliament's fiasco.
"It was the parliament's fiasco because it failed to make sure that the law is put into practice... and it failed to nominate and elect a qualified candidate," the president told the press on Thursday.

Vike-Freiberga said that the parliament had behaved "like a dog in the manger". She said that the ombudsman candidates should have been selected in consultations with experts. "I as the president was willing to assume the responsibility," said the president.

She said she was willing to find and propose a candidate herself. The president said she had also called on parliament speaker Indulis Emsis and the relevant committee leaders to discuss further actions. "I want to hear constructive solutions," said Vike-Freiberga.

Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who had proposed to the parliament the bill on the ombudsman's office, has several times criticized the parliament for delays in choosing the ombudsman.