Protests took place in Rīga and elsewhere March 5 as municipalities and individuals objected to reforms of regional administration that would see the current network of municipalities given a major overhaul. Under the proposed new law, the number of municipalities would be reduced from more than 100 to 40.
With lawmakers due to give a second reading to a bill with more than 300 proposed amendments that would amalgamate and merge many municipalities to create larger regional units of local government, protesters picketed the short walk between Saeima deputies’ offices and the entrace to the main Saiema building.
However the picket did not initially seem to be as large as organizers might have hoped, with LTV estimating the number of protesters at around 200.
Nevertheless, protesters were fairly vocal and social media showed a few heated exchanges, though by mid-afternoon the protesters had melted away even while debates continued inside the Saeima building. Not only boundary changes but even such thorny topics as what is meant by words such as “district” are up for debate. The huge size of the bill meant that Saeima deputies had their speeched limited to three minutes each, but even so a long session is a certainty.
Elsewhere, as previously reported, tractors, articulated trucks and other heavy vehicles were driving around at low speeds in what organizers say in another form of protest.