Suffrage Universel
le droit de vote des étrangers


Le droit de vote des étrangers en Lettonie

Les étrangers n'ont actuellement pas le droit de vote en Lettonie, mais la législation devra être adaptée avec l'entrée prochaine dans l'Union Européenne, en ce compris pour les élections européennes, peut-être déjà d'application à l'élection du Parlement européen de 2004.

European Parliament
Brussels, 11 July
Parliament examines progress made by candidate countries

Latvia has made 'enormous efforts to close the gap with the first group of candidate countries', states Elisabeth SCHROEDTER (Greens/EFA, D). However it needs to make improvements to its legal and administrative systems and to step up the fight against corruption. It needs to integrate the 'still considerable number of non-citizens', although current legislation may improve matters - such as the new ID cards that only give details of citizenship instead of ethnicity. There is also support for a gradual broadening of the right to vote in local elections.


European Parliament / Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy

In the chair: Elmar BROK (EPP-ED, D)

Press enquiries:

Timothy Boden - tel. (32-2) 28 43459

9 January 2002, Volume 3, Number 2


SPLIT EMERGES IN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC WORKERS PARTY. Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party (LSDSP) faction Chairman Egils Baldzens and deputies Risards Labanovskis, Janis Leja, Peteris Salkazanovs, and Imants Burvis announced on 7 January that they are leaving the LSDSP and forming a new faction, LETA reported. Baldzens told a press conference that they will form a new party, which will be called the Social Democratic Union. A key factor in their decision was their dissatisfaction with increasing cooperation between the LSDSP and the leftist For Human Rights in a United Latvia (PCTVL), whose leaders, they said, "deny democracy, the national state, and the Latvian nation." Baldzens asserted that the dissenters hope the views of most LSDSP members on state language, citizenship, education, voting rights to noncitizens, and NATO membership are absolutely different from those of the PCTVL. It seems likely that the New Faction will form a coalition in the parliament with the future party. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 January)

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 7, No. 16, Part II, 27 January 2003


The leaders of the four parties in the ruling coalition told BNS on 25 January that they oppose the recent proposal by civic group The Union of Citizens and Noncitizens to grant noncitizens the right to vote in local elections. The union submitted a similar proposal four years ago and has argued that noncitizens pay taxes and thus should have a say in their distribution, at least at the local level. For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK faction Chairman Maris Grinblats said such a move would lessen the desire of noncitizens to acquire citizenship and hinder their integration, resulting in a divided society. New Era faction Chairman Krisjanis Karins noted, "Our country has no restrictions preventing people from getting citizenship, but passing such legislative amendments may put brakes on the naturalization process." SG

Baltic Report 6 October 2003, Volume 4, Number 32


The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Latvia and Estonia of discriminating against their Russian minorities by not allowing noncitizens to vote in referendums on joining the European Union, RIA-Novosti reported on 24 September. Foreign Ministry spokesman Boris Malakhov said on 23 September that 662,000 people in the two Baltic countries were unable to vote in the recent referendums, in which EU membership was approved. "These people...earlier [during the Soviet occupation-ed.] enjoyed equal rights with other citizens. In the early 1990s they were deprived of citizenship," Malakhov said. "With Latvia's and Estonia's entry into the European Union, this problem will become [the EU's], and we will again put it in focus within the framework of the Russia-EU political dialogue." When Latvia and Estonia restored their independence in 1991, ethnic Russians who had moved there after Moscow annexed those countries during World War II were required to apply for citizenship.

Russian State Duma Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska told a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Economy and Security Committee on 23 September that Estonia and Latvia are oppressing their Russian-speaking minorities, BNS reported. She said that not allowing more than half a million residents of Latvia who are not citizens to vote in the EU membership referendum was a violation of their human rights.

Central Election Commission Chairman Arnis Cimdars issued a statement on 24 September calling on parliament factions and its Legislation Committee to prepare and pass the needed laws to hold the European Parliament elections next June, LETA reported. Cimdars mentioned that the work should begin soon since it will be necessary to ensure the voting of other EU member-state citizens in the elections, as well as the planned transition to dual identification documents in May 2004.

1 October 2003


The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that Latvia should allow legal residents who are not citizens to participate in local-government elections and extend the period for bilingual education, LETA reported on 30 September. The recommendations were included in the committee's evaluation of a report Latvia made to it in August regarding its implementation in 1998-2002 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The committee lauded Latvia's creation of a ministerial office to oversee societal integration, its adoption of a Society Integration Program, a Constitutional Court ruling that abolished restrictions on foreign-language broadcasts contained in the radio and television law, and noted the lack of opposition to educational reforms. The government asked Societal Integration Minister Nils Muiznieks to establish a working group to evaluate the committee's recommendations. SG


Suffrage Universel
le droit de vote des étrangers

te des étrangers