Latvia to 10th Saeima: You’re fired!

Saeima building in Rīga

The 100 lawmakers in the Saeima will be out of work after voters in Latvia on July 23 decided to dissolve parliament. New elections are planned in September. (Photo by Andris Straumanis)

With all polling stations reporting, provisional results of Latvia’s national referendum show that about 94 percent of voters have told the 10th Saeima to pack up and go home.

Counting of ballots began shortly after polls closed at 10 p.m. in Latvia, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga. The last to vote were Latvian citizens on the West Coast of the United States.

At around 10 a.m. July 24, the election commission reported counting 689,823 ballots, of which 94.3 percent were in favor of dissolving the parliament and 5.48 percent were against. The remaining 0.21 percent of ballots were deemed spoiled.

Total turnout in the homeland and abroad represented 44.73 percent of all eligible voters. Latvian citizens in the homeland could vote at any one of 950 polling stations. Abroad, a record 78 polling stations were in operation.

If the results hold—and political observers expect they will—the 100 lawmakers who make up the Saeima will be out of a job less than a year after being elected in October.

Elections for a new parliament are planned for September.

The referendum was ordered after then-President Valdis Zatlers on May 28 call for dissolution of the Saeima. It is the first time a Latvian president has used the constitutional power.

(Updated 24 JUL 2011)

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

6 thoughts on “Latvia to 10th Saeima: You’re fired!

  1. I agree that the difference in perception of reality between the Newsweek report and what is happening now is bizarre. I don’t think I know anyone in Latvia who has anything more than a cynical shrug of the shoulders and a scornful laugh when it comes to thinking about their politicians. So sad.

  2. This is an answer to prayer. We ask our Latvian neighbors what they thought about the former President being removed by the Saeima they were angry and one said “I cried.” We now pray for men and women of integrity to be elected.

  3. The positive aspect of the referendum is the mobilization and hence empowwerment of Latvia voters. The negative aspect is that most participants voted for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with the expressed precipitating cause mentioned by President Zatlers in his speech. Zatlers felt that the trio of Latvian oligarchs had engineered what is commonly called state capture.In sum, I see a reactive lashing out against authority simply because the current economic crisis has created conditions of instability and distress. Moreover there has been a long standing anti establishment streak in Latvian political culture visible on many occasions in history.

  4. The problems of firing the Latvian Parliament will become much clearer at the next elections slated for September. If the Russophone party, Concord Center, wins a plurality of seats then it may join up with the Greens-Farmers to create a solid oligarch+Moscow tied tandem. If that happens we will look back at Zatlers actions and dub them as “lacha pakalpojums” or the negative consequences of well meaning intentions.

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