January 20, 2012
A total of 85 polling stations in 41 countries—the greatest number ever—will be open outside the homeland on Feb. 18 for a national referendum to decide if Russian should become an official language alongside Latvian.
The Central Election Commission in Rīga announced the list Jan. 20 after the Constitutional Court decided not to interfere in the referendum, although it will take up a case questioning the legitimacy of parts of Latvia’s initiative and referendum law.
The expanded list of polling stations includes two countries—Chile and Venezuela—where Latvian citizens could not vote in September’s parliamentary election, although balloting has taken place there before.
The number of stations is seven more than the previous record of 78, which was how many polling spots abroad were set up for the July 2011 referendum on dissolving the 10th Saeima.
Besides the stations in Chile and Venezuela, new polling stations will operate in Graz, Austria; Cork, Ireland; Bergen, Norway; Zürich, Switzerland; and in the cities of Boston and Manchester, as well as the island of Guernsey, all in the United Kingdom. In the last Saeima election, a polling station operated in Edinburgh, Scotland, but it has been dropped from the list for the referendum.
The Feb. 18 referendum will decide if five paragraphs in Latvia’s constitution should be amended to make Russian an official language. Under current language, Latvian is the only official language. At least half of the eligible voters in the last parliamentary election, about 772,000 people, must vote in favor of the referendum for it to pass.
According to the Central Election Commission, polling stations abroad will operate in:
- Australia at the Latvian House “Tālavā,” 4 Clark St., Wayville (Adelaide), South Australia; Latvian House, 24 Church Ave, Buranda (Brisbane), Queensland; Latvian House Melbourne, 3 Dickens St., Elwood, Victoria; Honorary Consul of Latvia, 221 RAAFA Estate, Meadow Springs (Perth), Western Australia; and the Sydney Latvian House, 32 Parnell St., Stathfield, New South Wales.
- Austria at the Embassy of Latvia, Stefan Esders Platz 4, Vienna, and at Honorary Consulate of Latvia, Hans Sachs Gasse 3, Graz.
- Azerbaijan at the Embassy of Latvia on the sixth floor of the Caspian Plaze, 44 J. Jabbarli St., Baku.
- Belarus at the Embassy of Latvia, 6a Doroshevicha St., Minsk, and the Consulate of Latvia, 27a B. Hmelnickogo St., Vitebsk.
- Belgium at the Embassy of Latvia, 23 avenue des Arts, Brussels.
- Brazil at the Honorary Consulate-General of Latvia, Rua Jacques Felix 586, Ap. 12, Sao Paulo.
- Canada at the Embassy of Latvia, 350 Sparks St., Suite 1200, Ottawa; the Latvian Center, 3955 Provost, Lachine (Montréal), Quebec; and the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive, Toronto.
- Chile at Salvador 1201-D, Providencia, Santiago.
- China at the Embassy of Latvia, Unit 71, Green Land Garden No. 1A, Green Land Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing.
- The Czech Republic at the Embassy of Latvia, 3 Hradeshinska St., Prague.
- Denmark at the Embassy of Latvia, 17 Rosbaeksvej, Copenhagen, and in west central part of the country at the Latvian-Danish Society, Ved Anlægget 14b, Vejle.
- Egypt at the Embassy of Latvia on the eighth floor of the Abou El Feda Building, 3 Abou El Feda St., Cairo.
- Estonia at the Embassy of Latvia, 10 Tõnismägi St., Tallinn.
- Finland at the Embassy of Latvia, Armfeltintie 10, Helsinki.
- France at the Embassy of Latvia, 6 villa Saïd, Paris, and the Latvian Permanent Representative Office, 67 Alle de la Robertsau, Strasbourg.
- Georgia at the Embassy of Latvia, 16 Akhmeta St., Tbilisi.
- Germany at the Embassy of Latvia, Reinerzstr. 40-41, Berlin; the Honorary Consulate of Latvia, Vogelsanger Weg 6, Düsseldorf; the Honorary Consulate of Latvia, Deutsches Aktieninstitut e.V., Niedenau 13-19, Frankfurt am Main; the Honorary Consulate of Latvia, Neuer Wall 7, Hamburg; and the Honorary Consulate of Latvia, Ohmstrasse 22, Munich.
- Greece at the Embassy of Latvia, 38 Vas. Konstantinou Ave., Athens.
- Hungary at the Embassy of Latvia, 20 Vas Gereben utca, Budapest.
- Ireland at the Embassy of Latvia, 92 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin; the C.I.E. Sports & Social Club, Upper Carey’s Road, Limerick; and the Turners Cross Society Association, Church View, Curragh Road, Cork.
- Israel at the Embassy of Latvia on the 15th floor of the Amot Investment Tower, 2 Weizman St., Tel Aviv.
- Italy at the Embassy of Latvia, Viale Liegi 42, Rome.
- Japan at the Embassy of Latvia, 37-11 Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
- Kazakhstan at the Embassy of Latvia in the Kaskad Business Center, Kabanbai Batira Ave. 6/1, Office No. 122, Astana.
- Lithuania at the Embassy of Latvia, 76 M.K. Čiurlionio St., Vilnius.
- Luxembourg at the Honorary Consulate of Latvia, 42a route de Luxembourg, Bridel.
- Netherlands at the Embassy of Latvia, Balistraat 88, 2585 XX’s-Gravenhage, The Hague.
- Norway at the Embassy of Latvia, Bygdoy Allé 76, Oslo, and in Aurdalslia Skole, Aurdalslia 30, Sandsli, Bergen.
- Poland at the Embassy of Latvia, 19 Królowej Aldony St., Warsaw.
- Portugal at the Embassy of Latvia, Rua do Sacramento a Lapa, No.50, Lisbon.
- Russia at the Embassy of Latvia, Capligina St. 3, Moscow; the Consulate General of Latvia, Vasilevskij ostrov, 10 līnija, 11, St. Petersburg; the Consulate of Latvia, Narodnaja 25, Pskov; and the Latvian Chancery, F. Engelss St. 52a, Kaliningrad.
- Slovenia at the Embassy of Latvia, Tavčarjeva ulica 10-7, Ljubljana.
- Spain at the Embassy of Latvia, calle Alfonso XII 52-1, Madrid.
- Sweden at the Embassy of Latvia, Odengatan 5, Stockholm, and the Latvian Church, Ostergata 30, Göteborg.
- Switzerland at the Latvian Permanent Representative Office, 137 rue de Lausanne, Geneva, and the Latvian Consulate General, Selnaustrasse 5, Zürich.
- Turkey at the Embassy of Latvia, Reşit Galip Caddesi, No.95 G.O.P. Çankaya, Ankara.
- Ukraine at the Embassy of Latvia, 6B Ivana Mazepi St., Kiev.
- The United Kingdom at the Embassy of Latvia, 45 Nottingham Place, London; the Daugavas Vanagi House, 5 Clifton Villas, Manningham Lane, Bradford; St. Peters Centre, Church Side, Mansfield; Unity Hall, Northfield Road, Peterborough; the Straumēni rest home, Catthorpe Manor, Catthorpe, Leicestershire; 161 Dickenson Road, Manchester; Fireside Community Center, Taverner Road, Boston; St. James Concert & Assembly Hall, College Street, St. Peter Port, Guernsey; and the Honorary Consulate of Latvia, Drumalane Mill, Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.
- The United States at the Embassy of Latvia, 2306 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.; the Latvian Permanent Representative Office, 333 East 50th St., New York; the Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Trimda Church, 58 Irving St., Brookline (Boston), Mass.; the Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Zion Church, 6551 W. Montrose Ave. Chicago, Ill.; the Philadelphia Society of Free Letts, 531 N. 7th St., Philadelphia, Pa.; the St. Paul Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church, 30623 West Twelve Mile Road, Farmington Hills (Detroit), Mich.; the Latvian Society House, 504 Grand Ave. N.E., Grand Rapids, Mich.; the Latvian Community Center, 1008 W. 64th St., Indianapolis, Ind.; the Union Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church of Cleveland, 15120 Detroit Ave., Lakewood (Cleveland), Ohio; the Latvian Community Center, 1955 Riverside Dr., Los Angeles, Calif.; the Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church of Northern California, 425 Hoffman Ave., San Francisco, Calif.; the Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Holy Trinity Church, 1853 N. 75th St., Milwaukee, Wis.; the Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church of Minneapolis and St. Paul, 3152 17th Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn.; the Latvian Society of Washington, 11710 3rd Ave. N.E., Seattle, Wash.; and the Latvian Center, 1705 9th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Uzbekistan at the Embassy of Latvia, 16A Lashkarbegi St., Tashkent.
- Venezuela at Ave. Principal, Qta. Rancho Grande, Country Club, Caracas.
Polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Latvian citizens age 18 and older are eligible to vote, but must have a valid Latvian passport.
Voters may also vote by mail. Applications for absentee ballots, which are due Feb. 4, may be sent to one of 21 embassies and honorary consulates. A complete list of those locations is available for download from the Central Election Commission’s website, web.cvk.lv.
Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000-2012 he was editor of the website.