Riga braces for referendum on City Council dismissal

Riga braces for referendum on City Council dismissal

The future of the Latvian capital’s local government has been in doubt since a state of emergency was declared last year

In September 2019, the Latvian Competition Council ruled against the contract signed between local authorities in Riga and a consortium that was scheduled to take over waste management in the capital for the next 20 years.

What followed was chaos of unseen proportions by local authorities. The central government was forced to declare a state of emergency and began contemplating the dissolution of the Riga City Council.

Debates in the national parliament reached their peak in December when the legislative body approved on its first reading a decision for the dismissal of the local government of Riga. Parliamentarians, however, also approved a law change that included the possibility for the next City Council to serve out a longer-term so that its expiration coincides with the next municipal elections.

Citizens at the fore

The latter change was temporarily suspended by the president at the request of MPs, however. According to the Latvian constitution, such a move is set to be followed by the collection of signatures for the carrying out of a referendum on whether the draft proposal should be finally signed into law.

If the required number of signatures is not collected, the draft proposal automatically becomes law – that number is equal to 1/10 of the total electorate.

The awareness-raising campaign is beginning today – 16 January. Citizens of Riga are being asked to sign the petition for the carrying out of a referendum. Signatures will be collected by 13 February and signing will be allowed only in person at specific points and venues across the city.

In accordance with these developments, MPs have decided to delay their decision on the dismissal of the Riga City Council. The Latvian parliament will wait for the signatures to be collected and will then vote on the 2nd reading of the dissolution bill in mid-February.



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