The Latvian Electoral System

The Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia elected in March-April 1990 established a transitional period for restitution of independent state power, and this period terminated with the convening of the first post-Soviet Saeima (parliament), which since the election of the Fifth Saeima on 5 and 6 June 1993 is the highest legislative body in Latvia. The one-chamber Saeima counts 100 deputies and is elected in direct, proportional and secret elections by citizens 18 years of age and over. Until the term of the 6th Saeima expired in 1998, the Saeima deputies served for three years; a constitutional amendment, valid from the election of the 7th Saeima in 1998, extended the term of the Saeima to four years.

The 100 members of Saeima are elected proportionally on party candidate lists or electoral coalition candidate lists in five multi-seat constituencies: in the 1995 elections, Riga had 27 seats, Vidzeme province 25, Latgale province 19, Zemgale province 15, and Kurzeme province 14 seats. The allocation of mandates to the constituencies is made 100 days before each election; the number of mandates is proportional with respect to the constituency's relative share of the total electorate. In 1993, there was a 4 per cent national electoral threshold; the threshold was raised to 5 per cent in 1995.

The Satversme (constitution) of Latvia proscribes the Saeima to be elected in 'general, equal, direct and secret elections, on the basis of proportional representation', but it does not mention the method for achieving proportional representation nor any electoral threshold. The 1995 Election Law prescribes the St. Lagüe method of distributing mandates among parties, with the divisors being 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. The individual voter can give a plus sign to candidates on the ballot list, or delete the names of candidates. Parties can enhance the possibilities of candidates to be elected by putting them on the ballot in several constituencies.

Citizens over 21 years of age are eligible for election to the Saeima. The 1995 election law ruled that several groups were not eligible to run as candidates, among them prison inmates, former kgb employees, those who had been active in certain communist, pro-Soviet organizations after 13 January 1991, and those who do not master the national language of Latvia to the highest (third) level of competence. In May 2002, the language proficiency requirements for candidates for public office were abolished. Still, an elected deputy can - by a decision of the Saeima - lose his/her seat if he/she is unable to use the state language while performing his/her duties in the Saeima.

The Saeima elects the President by secret ballot. For a candidate to be elected, he or she must receive a minimum of 51 votes. The President serves a maximum of two consecutive terms. Persons aged 40 or over are eligible for the office of President. When Guntis Ulmanis' second term expired in 1999, the presidential term of office was extended from three years to four years.

Adapted from: Berglund, Sten, Ekman, Joakim, and Aarebrot, Frank H., 2004. The Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe. Second Edition. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Elections in Latvia

Saeima: Parliament

 

1993

1995

1998

2002

2006

Turnout:

89.7

72.6

71.9

71.5

62.7

 

Votes

%

Seats

Votes

%

Seats

Votes

%

Seats

Votes

%

Seats

Votes

%

Seats

1

Latvia's Way

362,473

32.4

36

139,929

14.7

17

173,420

18.1

21

48,430

4.9

0

-

-

-

2

National Conservative Party

149,347

13.4

15

60,352

6.3

8

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

3

National Harmony Party

134,289

12.0

13

53,041

5.6

6

135,700

14.2

16

-

-

-

-

-

-

4

Farmers' Union

119,116

10.7

12

-

-

-

23,732

2.5

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

5

Socialist Party

64,444

5.8

7

53,325

5.6

5

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

6

For Fatherland and Freedom

59,855

5.4

6

114,050

12.0

14

140,773

14.7

17

53,396

5.4

7

62,989

7.0

8

7

Christian Democratic Union

56,057

5.0

6

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

8

Democratic Party-Saimnieks

53,303

4.8

5

144,758

15.2

18

15,410

1.6

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

9

Latvian Popular Front

29,396

2.6

0

11,090

1.2

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

10

Green List

13,362

1.2

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

11

Russian Citizens of Latvia

13,006

1.2

0

11,924

1.3

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

12

Popular Movement-Siegerists

-

-

-

142,324

15.0

16

16,647

1.7

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

13

Unity Party

-

-

-

68,305

7.2

8

4,445

0.5

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

14

United List

-

-

-

60,498

6.4

8

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

15

Social Democratic Alliance

-

-

-

43,599

4.6

0

123,056

12.9

14

-

-

-

-

-

-

16

Political Union of Economists

-

-

-

14,209

1.5

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

17

Union of Latvian Farmers

-

-

-

13,009

1.4

0

-

-

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

18

Underprivileged & Independence

-

-

-

9,468

1.0

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

19

People's Party

-

-

-

-

-

-

203,585

21.3

24

165,246

16.7

20

177,481

19.7

23

20

New Party

-

-

-

-

-

-

70,214

7.3

8

-

-

-

-

-

-

21

Labour, Chr. Dem. & Greens

-

-

-

-

-

-

22,018

2.3

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

22

New Era

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

237,452

24.0

26

148,602

16.5

18

23

Human Rights in United Latvia

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

189,088

19.1

25

54,684

6.1

6

24

First Party

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

94,752

9.6

10

-

-

-

25

Green and Farmers Union

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

93,759

9.5

12

151,595

16.8

18

26

Social Democratic Workers

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

39,837

4.0

0

31,728

3.5

0

27

Life of Latgale

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

15,948

1.6

0

-

-

-

28

Social Democratic Union-SDS

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

15,162

1.5

0

-

-

-

29

Social Democratic Welfare Party

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

13,234

1.3

0

-

-

-

30

Harmony Centre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

130,887

14.5

17

31

First Party and Latvia's Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

77,869

8.6

10

32

Homeland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18,860

2.1

0

33

All for Latvia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13,469

1.5

0

34

New Democrats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11,505

1.3

0

35

Eurosceptics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,365

0.4

0

 

Others

63,668

5.7

0

11,126

1.2

0

26,581

2.8

0

23,945

2.4

0

18,631

2.1

0

 

Total

 

100.0

100

 

100.0

100

 

100.0

100

 

100.0

100

 

100.0

100

Sources: Central Electoral Commission, 2002, 2007. "7. Saeimas velesanas," "8. Saeimas velesanas," and "9. Saeimas velesanas," http://www.cvk.lv. Accessed October 28 2002, 16 July 2007

Materials on this page adapted from: Rose, Richard and Munro, Neil, 2003. Elections and Parties in New European Democracies. CQ Press: Washington, D.C.

European Parliament Election in Latvia, 12 June 2004

Turnout 41.2%
  National Parties EP group Votes % Vote Seats % Seats
2 National Conservative Party UEN 171,859 30.1 4 44.4
22 New Era EPP-ED 113,593 19.9 2 22.2
23 Human Rights in United Latvia Greens-EFA 61,401 10.7 1 11.1
19 People's Party EPP-ED 38,324 6.7 1 11.1
1 Latvia's Way ALDE 37,724 6.6 1 11.1
3 People's Harmony Party - 27,506 4.8 0 0
26 Social Democratic Workers - 27,468 4.8 0 0
25 Green and Farmers Union - 24,467 4.3 0 0
24 First Party - 18,685 3.3 0 0
29 Social Democratic Welfare Party - 12,871 2.3 0 0
30 Conservative Party - 9,716 1.7 0 0
5 Socialist Party - 9,480 1.7 0 0
27 Light of Latgale - 8,439 1.5 0 0
31 Eurosceptics - 5,481 1.0 0 0
7 Christian Democratic Union - 2,362 0.4 0 0
28 Social Democratic Union-SDS - 1,988 0.3 0 0
  Total   571,364 100.0 9 100.0

Source: Central Election Commission of Latvia, 2004. European Parliament Election: June 12, 2004: Preliminary Results. http://www.cvk.lv/cgi-bin/wdbcgiw/base/eiro.veles_rez04a.sak Accessed 14 October.


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