Popular Initiatives as Means of Altering the Core of the Republic of Latvia

Author:Kristine Jarinovska
Position:Dr. iur., Leading Researcher, University of Latvia
Pages:152-159
 
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152 JURIDICA INTERNATIONAL XX/2013
Kristne Jarinovska
Dr. iur., Leading Researcher
University of Latvia
Popular Initiatives as
Means of Altering the Core
of the Republic of Latvia
1. Introduction
The Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (the Satversme) is the oldest Eastern or Central European con-
stitution still in force and the sixth oldest still-functioning republican basic law in the world, having been
adopted by the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia (Satversmes sapulce) on 15 February 1922.
The Satversme provides for various forms of direct popular participation. Besides the ordinary right to
elect the Parliament, it sets forth rights
to propose (Article 78 of the Satversme), adopt (Article 78 through Article 79, §1 of the Satversme),
and repeal (articles 72 and 74 of the Satversme) ordinary law;
to propose (Article 78 of the Satversme), adopt (Article 78 and Article 79, §1 of the Satversme),
and repeal (articles 72 and 74 of the Satversme) amendments to the Satversme, which includes a
right to approve amendments made by Parliament to the core articles—1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 77—of the
Satversme (Article 77 of the Satversme);
to propose (articles 14 and 48 of the Satversme) and decide on recalling the Parliament (Article 48
of the Satversme);
to decide on removing the President instead of recalling the Parliament, if the President proposes
a recall (Article 50 of the Satversme); and
to decide on participation in the European Union, including to discontinue participation (Article
68, §3 and Article 79, §2 of the Satversme), and on terms of participation in the European Union
(Article 68, §4 and Article 79, §2 of the Satversme).
There are some limitations in respect of subjects of referenda and time for organising a referendum, yet
they are few. Means of legislative referenda are not to be used for decision on matters related to ‘the Budget
and laws concerning loans, taxes, customs duties, railroad tariffs, military conscription, declaration and
commencement of war, peace treaties, declaration of a state of emergency and its termination, mobilisation
and demobilisation, as well as agreements with other nations may not be submitted to national referendum’
(Article 73 of the Satversme), with the exception of certain questions of the European Union. As to con -
dence referenda, electors’ right to propose recalling Parliament ‘may not be exercised [for] one year after
the convening of the Saeima [the Latvian Parliament] and one year before the end of the term of of ce of the
Saeima, during the last six months of the term of of ce of the President, as well as earlier than six months
after the previous national referendum regarding recalling of the Saeima’ (Article 14 of the Satversme).

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