Polls ready for vote on Saeima recall amendments

In the homeland and in 38 countries around the world, Latvian citizens will head to the polls Aug. 2 to vote in a referendum that, if successful, would amend the constitution to allow for the popular recall of the parliament.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, according to the Central Election Commission in Rīga.

The referendum was called after the Saeima on May 28 rejected constitutional amendments submitted by President Valdis Zatlers on behalf of a citizen initiative that gathered more than 217,000 signatures in favor of the legislation. The amendments would alter Articles 78 and 79 of the constitution to allow citizens to call for dismissal of the parliament. Under the constitution’s current language, only the president can call for dismissing parliament.

Government officials, including Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, have urged a “no” vote on the referendum, while a coalition of opposition parties is pushing for passage of the measure.

For the referendum to count, at least 50 percent of Latvia’s eligible voters must cast ballots Aug. 2. Of those, at least half must cast “yes” votes for the referendum to pass, according to the Central Election Commission.

Polling places abroad include:

  • Australia: Adelaide Latvian Cooperative Latvian House “Tālava”, 4 Clark St., Wayville, SA; Melbourne Latvian House, 3 Dickens St., Elwood, VIC; and Sydney Latvian House, 32-34 Parnell St., Strathfield, NSW.
  • Austria: Embassy of Latvia, Stefan Esders Platz 4, Vienna.
  • Azerbaijan: Embassy of Latvia, 44 J.Jabbarli St., Baku.
  • Belarus: Embassy of Latvia, 6a Doroshevicha St., Minsk, and Consulate of Latvia, 27a B.Hmelnickogo St., Vitebsk.
  • Belgium: Embassy of Latvia, 158 av. Molière, Brussels.
  • Brazil: Honorary Consul-General, Rua Jacques Felix 586, Ap. 12, Sao Paulo.
  • Canada: Embassy of Latvia, 350 Sparks St., Suite 1200, Ottawa, and Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive, Toronto.
  • China: Embassy of Latvia, Unit 71, Green Land Garden No 1A, Green Land Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing.
  • Czech Republic: Embassy of Latvia, 3 Hradeshinska St., Prague.
  • Denmark: Embassy of Latvia, 17 Rosbaeksvej, Copenhagen.
  • Egypt: Embassy of Latvia, 22nd Floor, Office No. 2224, North Tower, Nile City Towers, Cornish El Nil, Ramlet Boulack, Cairo.
  • Estonia: Embassy of Latvia, 10 Tõnismägi St., Tallinn.
  • Finland: Embassy of Latvia, Armfeltintie 10, Helsinki.
  • France: Embassy of Latvia, 6 Villa Said, Paris.
  • Georgia: Embassy of Latvia, 4 Odessa St., Tbilisi.
  • Germany: Embassy of Latvia, Reinerzstr. 40-41, Berlin, and Consulate General of Latvia, Adenauerallee 110, Bonn.
  • Greece: Embassy of Latvia, 38 Vas. Konstantinou Ave., Athens.
  • Hungary: Embassy of Latvia, Vas Gereben utca 20, Budapest.
  • Ireland: Embassy of Latvia. 92 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin.
  • Israel: Embassy of Latvia, Amot Investments Tower 15th Floor 2, Rehov Weizman, Tel Aviv.
  • Italy: Embassy of Latvia, Viale Liegi 42, Rome.
  • Japan: Embassy of Latvia, 37-11 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
  • Kazakhstan: Embassy of Latvia, “Kaskad” Business Center, Kabanbai Batira Ave. 6/1, Office No. 122, Astana.
  • Lithuania: Embassy of Latvia, 76 M.K. Čiurlionio St., Vilnius.
  • The Netherlands: Embassy of Latvia, Balistraat 88, XX’s-Gravenhage.
  • Norway: Embassy of Latvia, Bygdoy Allé 76.
  • Poland: Embassy of Latvia, 19 Królowej Aldony St., Warsaw.
  • Portugal: Embassy of Latvia, Rua Sacramento a Lapa 50, Lisboa.
  • Russia: Latvian Chancery, F. Engelss St. 52a, Kaliningrad; Embassy of Latvia, Capligina St. 3, Moscow; Consulate of Latvia, Narodnaja 25, Pskov; and Consulate General of Latvia, Vasilevskij ostrov, 10 linija 11, St. Petersburg.
  • Slovenia: Embassy of Latvia, Ajdovscina 4, Ljubljana.
  • Spain: Embassy of Latvia, c/Alfonso XII 52-1, Madrid.
  • Sweden: Embassy of Latvia, Odengatan 5, Stockholm.
  • Switzerland: Permanent Mission to the United Nations, 137 rue de Lausanne, Geneva.
  • Turkey: Embassy of Latvia, Reşit Galip Caddesi, No. 95 G.O.P. Çankaya, Ankara.
  • Ukraine: Embassy of Latvia, 6B Ivana Mazepi St., Kiev.
  • United Kingdom: Embassy of Latvia, 45 Nottingham Place, London.
  • United States: Embassy of Latvia, Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., and the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, 333 East 50th St., New York, N.Y.
  • Uzbekistan: Embassy of Latvia, 16A Lashkarbegi St., Tashkent.

To vote in person, citizens must be at least 18 years old and must bring with them a valid Latvian passport.

Three weeks after the Aug. 2 referendum, voters will be sent back to the polls to decide on another referendum. A vote is set Aug. 23 on a referendum to boost Latvia’s state pensions. Like the vote on the constitutional amendments, the pension referendum was scheduled after the Saeima rejected a citizen initiative.

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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