Latvian Saeima votes to sack Rīga City Council

Take note – story published 4 years and 3 months ago

On Thursday, February 13, the Saeima decided on the final draft of the Riga City Council Dismissal Law which provides for the dismissal of the Riga City Council and the appointment of an interim administration ahead of fresh municipal elections.

The Saeima legally dismissed Riga City Council because of its inability to make decisions, following three successive council meetings at which a quorum was not obtained. As previously reported by LSM, a large part of the council itself aided this state of affairs by calling meetings with the intention that they should not be quorate.

As well as the justification for the dismissal of the City Council, it is mentioned in the Law that the Riga Municipality has not fulfill the autonomous functions of a municipality established in the Waste Management Law - organizing municipal waste management. 

The Saeima vote was carried by 62 votes to 22, with Harmony deputies and a few independents voting against. 

Following the dissolution of the Riga City Council, a temporary administration will have to be appointed in the city council. It is planned to appoint Edvīns Balševics, State Secretary of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development as its head, taking over from ousted mayor Oļegs Burovs but without the formal title of mayor. The temporary administration will be financed from the budget of the Riga City Municipality.    

The law stipulates that the elections of the new Riga City Council shall take place on the first Saturday after two months from the day of coming into force of the Law on Dismissal of the Municipality. The Central Election Commission shall announce these elections no later than the fifth day after the entry into force of the new law. 

With President Egils Levits still needing to promulgate the law for it to come into force, that would make April 25 the likely election day, meaning that the capital city and the country at large are likely to be treated to a few weeks of unexpected mid-term electioneering by the politial parties, with government coalition parties likely to form some sort of blocking coalition to prevent the opposition Harmony party - which is usually strong in Rīga - regaining power. 

Preliminary estimates of the Riga City Election Commission indicate that holding of an extraordinary election in Riga municipality in 2020 could cost around 863,000 euros 

In a separate piece of legislation the Saeima approved amendments to the Law on the Status of Deputy of the City Council and the County Council. They stipulate that a local government deputy who has insufficient knowledge of the state language will have to improve his / her Latvian language at his / her own expense.

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