Constitution of Latvia

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The Constitution of Latvia (Satversme) is the basic law of the independent democratic republic of Latvia .

Historical development of the Latvian constitution

The modernized constitution of February 15, 1922 applies in Latvia. In the meantime, it has been suspended , first by the authoritarian government of Karlis Ulmanis in 1936 (partially), then by the Soviet occupation in 1940 (de facto completely). After regaining independence on May 4, 1990, the constitution initially came into force partially and on July 6, 1993 in full. Since then, the constitution has been amended several times.

The Constitution of Latvia is one of the oldest still valid constitutions in Europe, it is the sixth oldest valid republican constitution in the world.

In the following, the current constitution of Latvia (status: 2004) is presented, whereby the differences to the constitution of 1922, as far as it concerns sections I to VII, are emphasized. The entire section VIII, which is devoted to fundamental rights , was completely new in 1998. Thus, the Latvian Constitution of 1922 had a total of seven sections with 88 articles, while the Latvian Constitution now in force contains a total of eight sections with 116 articles.


(Status: 2004)

Section I. General provisions
1. Latvia is an independent democratic republic .
2. Latvia's sovereign power belongs to the people of Latvia .
3. Latvia's territory is made up of Livonia , Latgale , Courland and Zemgallia within the boundaries set by international treaties.
4th The official language in the Latvian Republic is Latvian . Latvia's flag is red with a white stripe.
Section II: The Saeima
5. The Saeima consists of one hundred people's representatives .
6th The Saeima is elected by general, equal, direct, secret and proportional elections .
7th If Latvia is divided into separate electoral districts , the number of Saeima representatives to be elected in each electoral district is to be determined in proportion to the number of voters in each district.
8th. The right to vote have full rights lettländische citizens of both sexes, which older on the first day of election astwenty-oneare eighteen years old .
9. Any Latvian citizen with full rights who is over twenty-one on the first day of the election can be elected to the Saeima.
10. The Saeima will open threeelected for four years.
11. The Saeima elections have the first Sundays in October and the previous SaturdayTo be held on Saturday of October .
12. The newly elected Saeima will meet for the first time on the first Tuesday of November, at which time the powers of the previous Saeima will also expire.
13. If, in the event of a Saeima dissolution, the Saeima elections take place at a different time of year, this Saeima shall meet no later than one month after its election, and its powers shall expire afterwardstwothree years the following November, on the first Tuesday, with the meeting of the newly elected Saeima.
14th The voters cannot recall individual Saeima members.
15th The Saeima meets in Riga and only in exceptional circumstances can it meet elsewhere.
16. The Saeima elects its Presidium , which consists of the President of the Saeima ( Saeimas priekšsēdētājs ), two vice-presidents and secretaries . The Saeima Presidium remains in function for the entire duration of the Saeima powers.
17th The first meeting of the newly elected Saeima is opened by the President of the previous Saeima or by another member of the Presidium on behalf of the Presidium.
18th The Saeima checks the mandate of its members itself. A person elected to the Saeima shall receive the mandate as a member of the Saeima if that person makes the following solemn promise:

“By assuming my duties as a member of the Saeima before the Latvian people, I swear (solemnly) to be loyal to Latvia, to strengthen its sovereignty and the Latvian language as the only official language, to defend Latvia as an independent and democratic state and to honor my duties and to meet conscientiously. I promise to respect the Constitution and the laws of Latvia. "

19th The Saeima Presidium convenes the Saeima meetings and determines the ordinary or extraordinary meetings.
20th The Saeima Presidium has to convene a Saeima meeting at the request of the President of the State , the Prime Minister or not less than one third of the Saeima members.
21st The Saeima draws up rules of procedure to regulate its activities and internal business processes . The working language of the Saeima is Latvian.
22nd The Saeima meetings are public. At the request of ten Saeima members, the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or a minister , the Saeima can decide to hold a closed session with a majority of not less than two thirds of the MPs present.
23. A Saeima meeting can take place if at least half of the Saeima members participate.
24. With the exception of the cases specifically provided for in the constitution, the Saeima takes its decisions with an absolute majority of the members present.
25th The Saeima elects commissions and determines the number of its members and their functions. The commissions are entitled to request the materials and explanations necessary for their work from the individual ministers and local authorities, as well as to request the responsible representatives of the ministries concerned to provide explanations at the committee meetings. The commissions can continue their work between meetings of the Saeima.
26th If it is requested by not less than a third of the Saeima members, the Saeima has to set up parliamentary investigative commissions for special cases.
27. Saeima is entitled to address requests for information and inquiries to the Prime Minister or an individual Minister, which they or responsible officials authorized by them must answer. The Prime Minister or Minister is obliged to submit the relevant documents and files to the Saeima or its commissions upon request.
28. The members of the Saeima can not because of their expression in the exercise of the office yet because of their voting for responsibility to be taken, either judicially, or administratively, still in the disciplinary proceedings . A Saeima member can be held to judicial responsibility if, even if in the performance of his duties, it spreads:
1) knowingly false, dishonorable rumors or
2) dishonorable rumors about private or family life.
29 A Saeima member cannot be arrested, his house may not be searched , nor may his personal freedom be restricted in any other way if the Saeima does not agree. A Saeima member can be arrested if caught while committing a crime . The Saeima Presidium must be notified of the arrest of each Saeima member within 24 hours, which will present the next Saeima meeting for a decision as to whether the Saeima member should be kept in custody or released. In the meantime between the meetings and the opening of a meeting, the Saeima Presidium decides whether an arrested Saeima member should remain in custody.
30th No judicial or administrative prosecution can be brought against a Saeima member for a criminal act No judicial or administrative prosecution can be initiated against a Saeima member without the consent of the Saeima.
31. The Saeima member is entitled to refuse to testify :
1) about persons who, in his capacity as representative of the people, have entrusted him with any facts or information;
2) about persons to whom he has entrusted any facts or communications in the exercise of his duties as a representative of the people : 3) about these facts and communications themselves.
32. The Saeima members do not have the right to receive orders and concessions from the state in their names or those of any other person. These provisions also apply to the ministers, even if they are not members of the Saeima.
33. The Saeima members receive their salary from state funds .
34. No one can be held responsible for publishing Saeima and commission meeting reports if they are true . Reports on closed meetings of the Saeima and its commissions can only be made with the consent of the Presidium of the Saeima orof the Commission Bureaupublished by the Commission .
III. Section: The President
35. The Saeima elects the presidentthreefour years.
36. The president is elected by secret ballot with a majority of no less than 51 Saeima members.
37. No person can be elected President who has not reached the age of 40. No person with dual citizenship can be elected as President.
38. The office of President is incompatible with any other office. If the person elected as President is a Saeima member, he or she must resign from his powers as a Saeima member.
39. One and the same person cannot last longer than sixto be President of the Republic for eight consecutive years.
40. In the next meeting after his election, the President makes the following solemn promise when he takes on his official duties:

"I swear that all my activities will be devoted to the good of the Latvian people. I will do everything in my power to promote the welfare of the Latvian state and its people. I will respect and obey the Latvian Constitution and state laws . I will be righteous to all and fulfill my duties to the best of my knowledge. "

41. The President represents the state externally, appoints the Latvian and receives the foreign diplomatic representatives . He carries out the Saeima decisions on the ratification of international treaties.
42. The President is the supreme leader of the armed forces of the state. In case of war he appoints the commander in chief .
43. The President declared due to a Saeimabeschlusses war .
44. The President is empowered to take unavoidable military protection measures if another state declares war on Latvia or the enemy attacks Latvia's borders. At the same time, the President immediately convenes the Saeima, which decides on the declaration of war and the start of war.
45. The President of the Republic has the right to pardon criminals for whom the judicial judgment has acquired the force of law.This right to pardon does not apply to cases where the law provides for a different mode of pardon.A law regulates the scope and procedure for exercising this right. Amnesty declares the Saeima.
46. The President is authorized to convene and chair extraordinary sessions of the Cabinet of Ministers, setting their agenda.
47. The President has the right to initiate legislation .
48. The President is entitled to apply for a Saeima dissolution. A referendum is to be held on this. If more than half of the votes in the referendum are in favor of dissolving the Saeima, the Saeima is to be regarded as dissolved and new elections are to be ordered, which must take place no later than two months after the Saeima has been dissolved.
49. If the Saeima is dissolved, the powers of the Saeima members remain in force until the meeting of the newly elected Saeima, but the previous Saeima can only meet if the President calls them up. The President determines the agenda for such meetings.
50. If more than half of the votes cast are against dissolving the Saeima in the referendum, the President is to be regarded as recalled and the Saeima elects a new President for the remainder of the term of office of the recalled President.
51. At the request of no less than half of all Saeima members, the Saeima can decide in a closed session with no less than two-thirds majority of all Saeima members to recall the President. After such a decision, the Saeima immediately elects a new president.
52. If the state president resigns from office, dies or is recalled before his term of office expires, he will be represented by the Saeima president until a new state president is elected by the Saeima.
The Saeima President also represents the State President if the latter is outside the state borders or is otherwise prevented from fulfilling his official duties.
53. The President has no political responsibility for his work. All orders of the President of the Republic must be countersigned by the Prime Minister or the Minister concerned, who at the same time assume full responsibility for these orders, with the exception of the cases provided for in points 48 and 56.
54. The President of the Republic can be held criminally responsible if the Saeima agrees with a majority of no less than two thirds.
Section IV: The Cabinet of Ministers
55. The Cabinet of Ministers consists of the Prime Minister and the ministers appointed by him.
56. The Cabinet of Ministers forms a person who is requested to do so by the President.
57. The number of ministries and their areas of activity, as well as the mutual relationships between state institutions, are determined by the law.
58. The administrative state authorities are subordinate to the Cabinet of Ministers.
59. The Prime Minister and the Ministers require the confidence of the Saeima in order to exercise their official duties and are responsible for their activities before the Saeima. If the Saeima expresses its distrust in the Prime Minister, the whole cabinet must resign. If the mistrust is expressed to an individual minister, he must resign and the prime minister must appoint another person in his place.
60. The meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers are chaired by the Prime Minister and, during his absence, by the minister he has authorized to do so.
61. The Cabinet of Ministers advises on all bills drawn up by the individual ministries and questions that relate to the activities of several ministries, as well as the questions of state policy raised by the individual cabinet members.
62. If the state is threatened by external enemies or if internal unrest breaks out or threatens to arise in the state or in parts of it, which endanger the existing state order, the Cabinet of Ministers has the right to impose a state of emergency , of which the Saeima Presidium must be informed within twenty-four hours is who has to submit such a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers immediately to the Saeima.
63. The ministers, even if they are not members of the Saeima, and the responsible officials authorized by the ministers are entitled to participate in the meetings of the Saeima and its commissions and to submit additions and improvements to the bills.
Section V: Legislation
64. The Saeima, as well as the people, have the right to legislate in the order and to the extent provided in this constitution.
65. Bills can be submitted to the Saeima by the President, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Saeima Commissions, no fewer than five members, and in the cases and regulations provided for in this Constitution, a tenth part of the voters.
66. The Saeima annually confirms the revenue and expenditure budget of the state before the start of the financial year, the draft of which is submitted by the Cabinet of Ministers. If the Saeima takes a decision which is connected with expenses that are not foreseen in the budget, the decision must also include the means to cover these expenses. After the end of the budget year, the Saeima Cabinet of Ministers has to submit accounts for confirmation of compliance with the budget.
67. The Saeima determines the strength of the state's armed forces in peacetime.
68. All international treaties, which deal with questions to be decided by way of legislation, must be confirmed by the Saeima.
Before joining international agreements, Latvia can delegate some of the competencies of its state institutions to international institutions in order to strengthen democracy. International agreements in which part of the powers of state institutions are delegated to international institutions can be ratified by the Saeima in meetings in which at least two thirds of the Saeima members participate and a majority of two thirds of the members present vote in favor of ratification.
Latvia's membership in the European Union requires a referendum, which is initiated by the Saeima.
At the request of at least half of all Saeima members, a referendum must be held before any significant changes to the membership conditions of Latvia in the European Union.
69. The President publishes the laws adopted by the Saeima no earlier than on sevenththe tenth day and no later than the twenty-first day after their adoption. A law comes into effect fourteen days after publication, unless another date is specified in the law.
70. The President of the Republic publishes the adopted laws in the following order: "The Saeima (or the people) have adopted and the President of the Republic publishes the following law: (the wording of the law follows)."
71. In the course of seventen days from the adoption of the law in the Saeima, the President of the Republic can request a repeated review of the law in a letter of motivation to the Saeima President. If the Saeima does not change the law, the President cannot raise an objection for the second time.
72. The President is entitled to postpone the publication of a law for up to 2 months. He has to postpone the publication of a law if it is requested by no less than a third of the Saeima members. This right can be exercised by the President or one third of the Saeima members in the course ofseventen days from the adoption of the law in the Saeima. A law suspended under these regulations is to be passed to a referendum if no less than a tenth of the voters request it. If such an application is not made within the above-mentioned two months, the law must be published after this period. However, a referendum will not take place if the Saeima votes again on this law and if no fewer than three quarters of all MPs vote for its adoption.
73. The following laws cannot be submitted to a referendum for decision: the budget and laws on loans, taxes, tariffs, railway tariffs, conscription, declaration of war and the beginning, peace, imposition of the state of emergency and its lifting, mobilization and demobilization, as well as contracts with foreign states.
74. A law adopted by the Saeima and suspended in the order of item 72nd can be repealed by a referendum, if the vote is at least involved half of all eligible voters have participated half as many voters take part as voted in the last seminar election, and the majority votes for the repeal of the law.
75. If the Saeima recognizes the urgency of a law with not less than a two-thirds majority, the President cannot request a repeated review of this law, nor can it be submitted to a referendum, and is no later than the third day after receipt of the same to be published by the President.
76. The constitution can be changed by the Saeima in meetings in which at least two thirds of the Saeima members take part. The amendments are adopted in three readings with no less than two-thirds majority of the MPs present.
77. If the Saeima take the first, second, third or sixthhas changed the third, fourth, sixth or seventy-seventh paragraph of the constitution, such changes must be submitted to a referendum in order to become law.
78. No less than a tenth of the electorate has the right to submit to the President a fully elaborated draft of a constitutional amendment or a law, which the President submits to the Saeima. If the Saeima does not accept the draft without changing its content, it must be submitted to a referendum.
79. Constitutional amendments submitted to a referendum are accepted if at least half of all voters approve them.
A draft law or a resolution submitted to the referendum, which affects the membership of Latvia in the European Union or significant changes to this membership, is deemed to have been adopted if at least half as many voters participate in the vote as voted in the last general election, and the majority votes in favor of this law, the membership of Latvia in the European Union or substantial changes to this membership.
80. All Latvian citizens who have the right to vote in the saeima elections can take part in a referendum.
81. In the period between the Saeima meetings, the Cabinet of Ministers has the right, if an urgent need so requires, to issue ordinances with the force of law. Such ordinances cannot change the Saeima Election Act, the Laws on Judicial and Procedural Rules, the Budget and the Budget Act, as well as the laws adopted by the Saeima currently functioning; they cannot concern an amnesty, issuance of treasury bills , state taxes, tariffs , railroad tariffs and bonds, and they lose their force if they are not submitted within three days after the opening of the next Saeima meeting of the Saeima.
VI. Section: The Courts
82. All citizens are equal before the law and the court In Latvia, jurisdiction takes place through district courts (city courts), regional courts and the Supreme Court - in a war or state of emergency through courts-martial.
83. The judges are independent and only subordinate to the law.
84. The judges confirm the Saeima, they cannot be removed. The judges can only act against their willbased on a court rulingin the cases provided by law and on the basis of a decision by the judicial disciplinary court or a criminal court . A law can determine the age after which the judges will resign.
85. In Latvia there are juries based on a special lawthere is a constitutional court which, within its jurisdiction provided for by law, examines the compatibility of laws with the constitution and takes on other cases provided for by law. The constitutional court can declare laws and ordinances or parts thereof invalid. The appointment of the constitutional judges is confirmed by the Saeima for the period provided for by law in a secret ballot with a majority of not less than 51 Saeima members.
86. Justice can only be exercised by those organs to which the law confers these rights, and only in the order provided by law. The activity of the courts-martial is regulated on the basis of a special law.
Section VII: The State Audit Office
87. The State Audit Office is an independent collegial body.
88 The state auditors are appointed and confirmed in office in the same order as the judges, but only for a certain period during which they can only be removed from office on the basis of a court judgment. The order and competence of the State Audit Office is determined by a special law.
Section VIII: Fundamental Rights
89. The state observes and protects fundamental rights in accordance with this constitution, the laws and the international treaties that are binding for Latvia.
90. Everyone has the right to know their rights.
91. All people in Latvia are equal before the law and the courts. Fundamental rights are realized without any form of discrimination.
92. Everyone has the right to defend their rights and legitimate interests in court. Everyone is considered innocent until his guilt is determined by law. Anyone whose rights have been violated without a legal basis is entitled to appropriate compensation. Everyone has the right to seek legal assistance.
93. Everyone's right to life is protected by the law.
94. Everyone has the right to freedom and personal security. No one may be deprived of his or her freedom or restricted in his freedom in any way other than the legal one.
95. The state protects human honor and dignity. Torture or other cruel or degrading treatment of people is prohibited.
96. Everyone has the right to the inviolability of their private life, their home and their correspondence.
97. Everyone who has legally settled on the territory of Latvia has the right to freedom of movement and freedom of choice of residence.
98 Everyone has the right to leave Latvia. Every holder of a Latvian passport is protected by the state abroad and has the right to return freely to Latvia. A Latvian citizen cannot be extradited abroad.
99 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The church is separate from the state.
100. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the right to freely obtain, store and pass on information and to express their opinion. Censorship is forbidden.
101. Every Latvian citizen has the right to political participation in state and regional administration as well as access to public office within the framework of the law. The regional administrations are elected by the Latvian citizens who enjoy full citizenship rights. The working language of the regional administrations is Latvian.
102. Everyone has the right to form and join associations, political parties or other public organizations.
103. The state protects freedom to peaceful and pre-announced gatherings, demonstrations and industrial action.
104. Everyone has the right to submit petitions to the state or regional administration and to receive a reasoned answer. Everyone has the right to receive an answer in Latvian.
105. Everyone has the right to property. Property must not be used against the public interest. Ownership may only be restricted on the basis of a law. Expropriations for public purposes are only permitted in exceptional cases and only on the basis of a law against adequate compensation.
106. Everyone has the right to freely choose their profession and job according to their skills and qualifications. Forced labor is prohibited. Participation in disaster relief and work on the basis of a court order are not considered to be forced labor.
107. Every employee has the right to appropriate remuneration for his work, which may not be below the minimum set by the state, as well as the right to weekly days off and paid annual leave.
108. Workers have the right to enter into collective agreements and to strike. The state protects the freedom of trade unions.
109. Everyone has the right to social security in old age, in the event of incapacity for work, unemployment and in other cases determined by law.
110. The state protects and supports marriage - a community between man and woman, as well as the family and rights of parents and children. In particular, the state helps disabled children and children who have no parental care or who have suffered violence.
111. The state protects the health and guarantees basic medical care for everyone.
112. Everyone has the right to an education. The state ensures free schooling and further education for everyone. Education is compulsory.
113. The state recognizes the right to scientific research, artistic and other creative activities and protects copyright and patent law.
114. Members of ethnic minorities have the right to preserve and develop their language and their ethnic and cultural identity.
115. The state protects everyone's right to live in an intact environment by providing environmental data and promoting environmental protection.
116. The rights set out in points 96, 97, 98, 100, 102, 103, 106 and 108 of the Constitution can be restricted in a manner determined by law, namely to protect the rights of others, the democratic order of the state and security, order and the Public welfare. Under the conditions mentioned in this point, religious activities can also be restricted.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. On the history of the 1922 constitution see Max Matatyahu Laserson: Das Verfassungsrecht Lettlands . In: Yearbook of Public Law of the Present , Vol. 12 (1923/1924), pp. 265–269.
  2. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (1922). In: Retrieved January 13, 2017 .
  3. Kristīne Jarinovska: Popular Initiatives as Means of Altering the Core of the Republic of Latvia . In: Juridica International , ISSN  1406-5509 , vol. 20 (2013), pp. 152–159, here p. 152 ( ).
  4. Official website of the Latvijas Universitāte , accessed on: January 20, 2020.