Saeima committee goes ahead on transparent presidential election

The Saeima Legal Affairs Committee on November 29 supported a public initiative over electing the Latvian president in an open vote, reported Latvian Radio. 

In Latvia, the president is elected by the parliament. This is done in a ballot, the only in which the way the MPs vote is kept secret.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the current state of affairs is not popular among the electorate; indeed, some presidential elections are overshadowed by accusations that, as MPs are not held accountable for their choice, they cast their votes unscrupulously.

The 'oligarch transcripts' leaked by the Ir weekly this summer even showed political strongmen bragging in secret about having used their clout in the past to secure victory for their favored candidate.

Now about 11,000 people have signed to change the way the president is elected on the public initiative portal Manabalss.lv, mandating a review by the Saeima. 

Seven MPs, of the Unity, National Alliance and Harmony parties, supported the initiative, while MPs from the Greens and Farmers Union and Latvia From the Heart voted against. 

However the initiative may run against hurdles as any amendments to the Constitution require the approval of all coalition parties, of which the Greens and Farmers Union is one. 

The initiative has been now handed to a work group which will have a single representative from each party in the Saeima. 

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