Saeima committee forwards constitutional amendments on open presidential vote to parliament

Saeima Legal Affairs Committee decided today to forward to Saeima amendments to the Constitution, proposed by Latvian Association of Regions, which stipulate that Saeima will elect the president of Latvia by open vote.

As reported, the Saeima committee approved the amendments in principle this past June, therefore the bill was not put to the vote again today. The committee agreed that the legislation would be reviewed at one of the next Saeima meetings.

The Legal Affairs Committee had also asked other committees’ opinion about the legislation. The committee’s chairman Gaidis Berzins (National Alliance) told Saeima today that nine out of 16 Saeima committees had informed the Legal Affairs Comittee about their opinion – seven committees said they supported the bill, one indicated that the legislation was beyond its competence, and one committee’s meeting when the bill was discussed was not quorate.

As reported, this past May Saeima forwarded the bill to committees. The proposal was supported by 61 votes to four, while 21 lawmakers did not participate in the vote. The proposal was supported by coalition representatives – Unity and the National Alliance, while the majority of the Union of Greens and Farmers did not participate in the vote.

In October last year, the Saeima Legal Affairs Committee supported the proposal on open presidential vote, but the committee also held a heated debate.

More than 10,000 people signed in support of the initiative on public initiatives website submitted by Delna pro-transparency organization. In Latvia, the parliament has to consider public legislative initiatives, if they had been signed by more than 10,000 citizens.

Those criticizing the proposal on the open vote say that an open vote would expose lawmakers to pressure from those willing to influence the election outcome. Lawmakers would have then to vote as the parliament faction decides.

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