Ministry stops municipal survey over territorial reform

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The Environment Ministry has stopped the Ikšķile municipality from organizing a survey that asks residents whether they want to join another administrative territory.

"The municipality has chosen to organize a survey that cannot be supported, as the municipality overreaches its legal rights. The decision over this reform is a common one and should be carried out through the Saeima," said Environment Minister Juris Pūce (Development/For!).

Pūce said that ministry consultations over the planned reform are to continue at least until September and that he'll take part in them personally. 

According to the Environment Ministry, municipal law only allows organizing public debate over matters controlled by the municipality. 

The survey would have asked the following: "Do you support the Ikšķile Municipality as a sovereign administrative territory of the Republic of Latvia?" The ministry claims it creates a misleading image that locals are in fact making a decision about the slated state-wide reform, adding that under current law municipalities aren't allowed to call local referenda. 

The Constitutional Court in 2009 ruled that only the parliament has a final say about the planned administrative reform.

Meanwhile the Ikšķile municipal council plans to go ahead with the survey despite the government intervention. Municipal head Indulis Trapiņš (Unity) said that the ministry's decision is cowardly and disharmonious with democratic values. 

A public survey was planned in Ikšķile over it being merged with other municipalities from May 9 to May 11. 

The administrative-territorial reform project envisages the creation of 35 local government regions centered on towns and cities rather than the more dispersed model currently in operation.

Under the current project, Ikšķile Municipality would be merged with the nearby Ogre Municipality. 

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