Latvia de iure
1918 – Republic of Latvia is proclaimed
1920 - Latvia wins the War of Independence and elects Constitutional Assembly
*Did you know? Latvia was one of the first countries to give women the right to vote in 1920.
1921 – Allies recognize Latvia de iure
1922 – Constitutional Assembly approves the Constitution (Satversme)
From the Preamble of the Constitution:
“Latvia is a democratic, legal, socially responsible and national state, based on respect and freedom of the person, recognizes and protects the fundamental human rights and respect for national minorities. The people of Latvia protect its sovereignty, independence, territory, unity and democratic Latvian state.”
According to the Constitution (Satversme), Latvia is a parliamentary republic in which the sovereign power belongs to the people, who are represented by a unicameral parliament (Saeima), with 100 members elected in general, equal, direct, secret and proportional elections for a four-year period.
The Saeima represents the citizens and makes the law. It ratifies international agreements and appoints major public officials.
The Saeima is chaired by the Speaker and two Deputy Speakers. Together with the Secretary and his Deputy they form a 5-member Presidium. The Presidium sets the agenda and supervises the Chancery of the parliament. The Speaker takes over duties of the Head of State when the President cannot do so.
The Saeima is located in Rīga – the capital of Latvia.
The current Speaker of Saeima is Mrs. Ināra Mūrniece who took office on November 4, 2014.
Saeima elects the President. The elections take place once in 4 years. The President can hold office no more than 8 years in a row.
The President is the Head of State. The President represents Latvia internationally, appoints the diplomatic representatives of Latvia, and receives foreign representatives to Latvia.
The Head of State is also the Commander-in-Chief of the army. As such, the President can take necessary actions for the defence of Latvia.
The President has the right to initiate legislation. The President proclaims laws passed by the Saeima and pardons sentenced persons. The President can propose the dissolution of the Saeima, however, if the citizens vote against it, the President is dismissed instead.
The current President of the Republic of Latvia is H.E. Mr. Egils Levits who took office on May 29, 2019.
The Prime Minister ensures coordinated and purposeful work of the Cabinet of Ministers and is responsible before the Saeima.
The Prime Minister chairs Cabinet sittings and meetings of the State Secretaries, the highest executive officers, called the Committee Meeting. The Cabinet of Ministers is the main day-to-day decision maker and executive power.
The candidate for the post of the Prime Minister, invited by the President, invites ministers to form the Government. When the candidate for the post of the Prime Minister submits to the Saeima the list of government ministers and the proposed government activity plan and receives confidence vote by the Saeima, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers start to fulfil their functions and exercise authority.
Cabinet of Ministers, within the scope of its competence, considers policy planning documents, external and internal legal acts, orders of the Cabinet of Ministers, informative statements, national positions and official opinions of the State.
Ministries are directly subordinated to a respective Member of the Cabinet of Ministers. They are top-level direct administration institutions that develop state policies. Currently there are 13 ministries in Latvia.
The Current Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia is Mr. Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš who took office on January 23, 2019.
Saeima makes the law. President proclaims the law. Government implements the law. Judiciary interprets the law.
The Latvian law is civil law – it is codified. This differs from common law as in the United States or the United Kingdom. The European Union law is part of Latvian law.
Judges are appointed by the Saeima. They work in the court system of district (city) and regional courts. The Supreme Court is the highest level instance, whereas the Constitutional court reviews if a law follows the Satversme – the Latvian Constitution.
© The Latvian Institute 2015. Photos © State Chancellery of Latvia, Saeima Chancellery, President's Chancellery, Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia