Pension initiative appears to have enough signatures

With just two days left in a citizen initiative to compel the Latvian parliament to boost state pensions, it appears the required number of signatures have been gathered, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

A total of 149,064 signatures, or 10 percent of the total number of voters in the last parliamentary election, need to be gathered in the drive that began April 16 and which is scheduled to end May 15. By May 13, 140,297 citizens had signed onto the initiative, while another 12,161 signed the initial petition in favor of the initiative, bringing the total to 152,458, the Central Election Commission announced, citing provisional data.

That means proposed legislation amending the state pension law most likely will be submitted to the Saeima for its approval. If the Saeima does not accept the proposed legislation, a national referendum must be called on the issue.

This would be the second proposed law to go before the parliament this year under new procedures that allow citizen initiative in Latvia. Last month, the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia (Latvijas Brīvo arodbiedrību savienība) successfully concluded an initiative to get lawmakers to consider a constitutional amendment allowing citizens to initiate a recall of the parliament. The amendments are now under consideration by Saeima commissions.

Changes to the pension law are proposed by the Pensioners and Seniors Party (Pensionaru un senioru partija) and by the Association for a Different Politics and a Judicial State (Sabiedriba citai politikai un tiesiskai valstij). They seek an increase in the minimum monthly state pension to no less than three times the state welfare payment.

A total of 622 locations in Latvia have been open for citizens to sign on to the initiative. Outside of Latvia, citizens may visit one of 43 embassies, consulates general and consulates. In the United States and Canada, the Latvian embassies each organized an additional day for the signature drive in Rockville, Md., and in Toronto.

Data on the number of signatures gathered on the pension law initiative at locations outside of Latvia have not yet been furnished by the Central Election Commission.

Information on locations where the initiative may be signed is available from the Central Election Commission online at To be able to sign the initiative, citizens must be at least 18 years old, must possess a valid Latvian passport and must appear in person.

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

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