Saeima nixes open ballot for electing President

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Saeima rejected the National Alliance’s (NA) bill to amend the Satversme (Constitution) articles determining how the President is selected and approved by parliament Thursday, keeping the original system of secret balloting intact for now.

The draft amendments were favored by 43 MPs of the ruling center-right Unity and National Alliance, while 28 MPs of the opposition For Latvia from the Heart (NSL) and the ruling Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) voted against, and 21 MPs of the opposition leftist pro-Russia Harmony abstained.

Last Thursday lawmakers already voted down the proposal, but procedurally the issue was kept on this week’s plenary agenda.

Authors of the draft legislation argued that open vote is mandatory for the election of such high-ranked officials as parliament speaker and his or her deputies, parliamentary secretary, auditor general and members of the Council of the State Audit Office, chairman and members of the Central Election Commission, chairman of the Finance and Capital Market Commission, Bank of Latvia governor, his or her deputies and members of the central bank's council, head of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, chief ombudsman, prosecutor general, Supreme Court chairman and chief of defense, among others.

The Satversme stipulates that the president shall be elected in a secret ballot with at least 51 votes.

The next presidential election in Latvia is due to take place this summer.

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