Saeima supports dissolution of Rīga City Council

Take note – story published 4 years ago

On Thursday, December 19, the Saeima conceptually endorsed a draft law to dismiss the Riga City Council, which provides for the dissolution of the City Council and the appointment of an interim administration to be followed by fresh elections. The Saeima determined the draft law is urgent, and therefore will require only two readings instead of the standard three. 

"The purpose of the draft law is to prevent unlawful actions of the Riga City Council by failing to fulfill the autonomous function of the municipality established in the Waste Management Law, the Law on Local Governments and other regulatory enactments - to organize municipal waste management," a Saeima release said. 

Following the dissolution of the Riga City Council, a temporary administration will be appointed in the city municipality headed by personnel from the ministries of Justice, Finance and Environmental Protection and Regional Development.

The law provides that the Provisional Administration will fulfill the functions of the local municipal council and ensure the continuity of work of the local government institutions as well as financial and economic activities. The Head of Administration will perform the duties currently assigned to the Chairman of the Riga City Council, often referred to as the mayor.  

It is planned that the activities of the interim administration will be ensured and financed from the budget of the Riga City Municipality and the remuneration of the administration will be determined by analogy with the expected remuneration to the chairman of the City Council, his deputy and committee leaders.    

The bill stipulates that the new Riga City Council elections will be held on the first Saturday two months after the effective date of the municipal dissolution law, and the Central Election Commission will announce these elections no later than the fifth day after the new law comes into force. Preliminary calculations of the Riga City Election Commission indicate that holding of extraordinary elections in Riga municipality in 2020 could cost 862,700 euros. 

"The dismissal of the Riga City Council was prompted because of repeated and systematic violations throughout the term of office of this Council. Citizens have complained about them, as well as the state institutions, including the State Audit Office, the specialized prosecutor's office of organized crime and other sectors, who have complained about them," according to annotations to the draft law. 

It is planned that the Riga City Council dismissal law will come into force the day after its promulgation. 

The Saeima set the deadline for the submission of amendments for the second reading of the draft law as January 3 next year, while the final reading is scheduled for January 16.

However, the first reading only passed after lengthy debate not only on the matter at hand, but on the Saeima procedure used to achieve it and the precedent it might set to have a democratically elected council replaced by unelected bureaucrats, even on a temporary basis.

Eventually the vote was won by 53 votes to 40.

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