100 years of the Latvian Constitution

February 15 marks exactly one hundred years since the adoption of Latvia's foundation stone of governance – the Satversme or Constitution.

Various events are marking the occasion, starting with a special sitting of the Saeima, and then meeting of President Egils Levits and young people to discuss the relevance of the constitution today as part of a cycle of such debates.  

The debate takes place 14.00 to 15.30 at Rīga Castle and will be moderated by radio and TV personality Toms Grevins. It will be available to watch live (in Latvian) on LSM's Latvian-language portal, on the website of the president (www.president.lv) and on the presidential YouTube , Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The cycle of debates will continue in all regions of the country and wrap up a year from now in February 2023 back at Rīga Castle.

The cycle of debates is organized by the Chancellery of the President of Latvia in cooperation with Vidzeme University College, associations "Quo Tu domā?" and the European Movement in Latvia.

Later in the day President Levits will unveil commemorative coins, previously reported by LSM.

It is commonly said that Latvia's Constitution is among the oldest in the world still in force. Indeed the 1922 document is among the ten oldest European constitutions and basic laws behind San Marino (1600), Sweden (1810), Norway (1814), the Netherlands (1815), Belgium (1831), Luxembourg (1842), Austria (1920), and Liechtenstein (1921).

If you would like to read the full text of Latvia's constitution in English, it is available at the Saeima website. It includes the later preamble to the constitution, which was appended in 2014, not without controversy. Egils Levits was himself one of the main forces behind this addition to the original.

After coming into force in 1922, the constitution was suspended in the 1934 coup of Kārlis Ulmanis, who seized all power. After that, Soviet and Nazi occupation regimes imposed their own illegal rules, but the Satversme proved its lasting strength when in 1990 the restoration of Latvian independence was based upon the fact that Soviet occupation was illegal because it ignored the constitution that was technically still in force. The constitution was fully reintroduced in 1993.

 


 

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