Latvian Saeima conducts its first ever "virtual" sitting

Following the lead of the cabinet and other state institutions, the Latvian parliament or Saeima enters a new era April 2 when it conducts its first ever sitting by video conference.

As an interim measure, the 100 deputies are scattered across different rooms and premises of the parliament, connecting by video link. This will be a temporary solution - not least to comply with constitutional demands - while intensive work has been started to make a new technological platform available as soon as possible, which would ensure the holding of Saeima sittings remotely in the event of an emergency situation, with deputies staying outside the Saeima premises completely.

Considering the need to observe the physical distance, the Saeima sitting is organized with deputies working not all together in the debating chamber, but in eight separate parliamentary premises equipped with conference equipment. During the sitting, the Speaker of the Saeima will be in the Saeima Session Hall, while the deputies will work in other halls and rooms.

Parliamentarians will have the opportunity to debate and take decisions by voting. There will be counters delegated by political groups and non-attached Members in each room.

It is also planned to broadcast the sitting of the Saeima organized in this temporary format live on the website of the Saeima, so that the public and media representatives, as usual, can follow the work of the parliament.   

"Active work is also under way to develop, as soon as possible, a new technological solution for remote work, tailored to parliamentary work and specific procedures. This will allow the continuation of legislative work during the emergency situation, without the deputies staying on the premises of the Saeima. The technological solution of the E-Saeima will, among other things, ensure the authentication of deputies, the possibility to apply for debates and moderation of debates, as well as a secure voting function. It is important that the new solution will also have to ensure the availability of the Saeima sitting to the public by providing a live broadcast," the Saeima press service said.

A number of leading information and communication technology companies have been approached for the development of this solution, and more than ten proposals for the development of the technological solution have already been received. They are currently being evaluated. 

The Saeima authorities called for the patience and understanding of the public if things don't initially go as smoothly as planned.

You can see how it goes for yourself at the Saeima website from 10:00 Rīga time.

Speaker Ināra Mūrniece welcomed deputies to what she called the "e-Saeima" and thanked the staff who were working to keep Saeima sessions operating. With her in the chamber was a scattering of well-spaced deputies including Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, while other deputies listened from the other rooms. Speakers should signal they have finished speaking by saying "Paldies" (Thank you) said Mūrniece.

Saeima video sitting April 2

 

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