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Q&A

Which election system is applied in Latvia?

In Latvia proportional election system is used. In Saeima elections Latvia is divided into five election constituencies: Rīga, Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme, Zemgale. From each constituency a certain number of members of parliament is elected proportionally to the number of voters in each constituency.  Latvian voters abroad belong to the constituency of Riga. 

In municipal elections each municipality is a single election constituency. In European Parliament elections the whole Latvia is a single election constituency.   

Why is it necessary to participate in elections?

Participation in elections is one of expression forms of democracy. The Constitution of the Republic of Latvia stipulates that Latvia is an independent democratic republic in which the sovereign power of the State of Latvia belongs to the People of Latvia.  Every lawful citizen of Latvia who on the election day has reached the age of 18, is entitled to vote.

However, participation in elections is not only rights, it is also a duty and an opportunity to change one’s life. Pretty often even a single vote becomes decisive for one or another deputy candidate.  

How to become a deputy candidate?

In order to become a deputy candidate, applicant must be included in a candidate list. In Saeima and European Parliament elections candidate lists are prepared by parties and unions of parties. However, in local elections in those municipalities with less then 5 000 voters according to the data from the day when elections are announced, candidate lists may be submitted also by voters’ unions.

The way how parties make their lists is up to the respective party and its statements. The list may be composed of members of the party, supporters of the party, or just popular persons, well-known in the society.  

On the submission a candidate list has to comply with the requirements of the respective election law.

Which persons may not stand as candidates?

Although most of the restrictions are similar in Saeima, European Parliament and local elections, some differences still exist.

In none of the elections deputy candidate can be a person who:

1) has been recognized as incompetent in accordance with the procedure set by law;

2) is serving a court sentence in a penitentiary;

3) has been sentenced for a deliberately committed crime which is regarded as a crime in Latvia and whose sentences have not been expunged or annulled, except those pardoned;

4) have committed a criminal offence in a state of mental incompetency or who, after committing a crime, have become mentally ill, thus and are incapable of taking conscious action or controlling it, and as a result have been subjected to compulsory medical treatment  or their cases have been dismissed without applying such a compulsory measure;

In addition, in Saeima elections deputy candidate can not be a person who:

1) is not a citizen of Latvia;

2) belongs or has belonged to the salaried staff of the USSR, the Latvian SSR or another country’s state security, intelligence or counterintelligence services;

3) after 13 January 1991 has been active in the CPSU (the CP of Latvia), the Working People’s International Front of the Latvian SSR, the United Board of Working Bodies, the Organisation of War and Labour Veterans, the All-Latvia Salvation Committee or its regional committees.

In addition, in European Parliament elections deputy candidate may not be a person who:

1) is not a citizen of Latvia or any other European Union member state;

2) is not registered within Voters’ Register.

In local elections deputy candidate can not be a person who:

1) is not a citizen of Latvia or any other European Union member state;

2) is not registered within Voters’ Register;

3) has not been for a certain time filed with a place of residence or owns real estate in the administrative territory of the respective local government, or has not been working as an employee or as a self-employed person on the administrative territory of the respective local government. 

Age limit to stand as a candidate in Saeima and European Parliament elections is 21 year, while in local elections – 18 years.  

How much does election cost?

Costs arising from the preparation and holding of the Saeima and European Parliament elections shall be covered from the state budget.

For instance, for preparation of the 11th Saeima elections 2 million 112 thousand Lats were allocated from the state budget, that is on average 1 lat 37 santims on one voter. It must be taken into account that funding for function of parties - pre-election advertising, work of observers before elections and on election day, formation of candidate lists, etc. - is not included in these expenses.

Costs arising from the preparation and holding of local elections shall be covered mostly from the respective local budgets.

How does the Central Election Commission ensure that election results are not falsified?

In all the laws regulating the electoral process, as well as in several instructions of the Central Election Commission comprise standards with an aim to prevent probable   fraud. Let’s mention just some of these norms:

1) the election laws stipulate secret ballot;

2) only those ballots which are put into voting envelope are valid;

3) election envelopes must be sealed with the seal of the respective polling station;

4) every voter in elections is registered. In Saeima elections a stamp is put in voters’ passports, while in European Parliament and local elections every voter is registered in voters’ list of one particular polling station and signs on the voters’ list when receiving voting documents. In both cases the set rules helps to secure that every voter can vote only once;

5) all political parties, as well as groups of voters, have the right to nominate their representatives for election commission of towns, regions and pagasti;

6) observers of political parties and media representatives are allowed to participate in the processes of establishment and work of election commissions;

7) minutes are kept in the course of voting and counting of votes in every polling station;

8) every person – both observers and voters – are entitled to complain about violations during election process. The law stipulates that complaints shall be reviewed and answered immediately.

What is the Central Election Commission occupied with in between elections?  

Besides the duty to prepare Saeima, European Parliament and local elections, as well as national referendums and referendums on legislative initiatives, the Central Election Commission of Latvia is also obliged to:

1) analyze election results, summarize and publish them in a separate publication that is available at public libraries;

2) consult local election commissions on the issue of rotation of local authorities;

3) work on development of election legislation by preparing proposals for the improvement of election process in cooperation with Saeima Legal Affairs Committee, Public Administration and Local Government Committee, and Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee;

4) provide training for local election commissions and follow the process of establishment of election commission in municipalities;

5) grow in experience in preparation of elections in European Union states.

P.S. Law stipulating functions of the Central Election Commission and local election commissions, preparations and the course of elections and national referenda, as well as procedure of voters’ registration are available at the section Legislation.