New Saeima sworn in Tuesday

On Tuesday, November 1, at 10:00, members of the 14th Saeima gathered for the first session, a month after the elections decided the composition of Latvia's unicameral parliament for the next four years.

The first session of the new parliament was opened and chaired by the Speaker of the 13th Saeima, Ināra Mūrniece, until the election of the Speaker of the 14th Saeima. At the beginning of the session, the new convocation of the Saeima was addressed by the State President Egils Levits. 

At the first session of the newly elected Saeima, vote counters are elected, as well as the temporary Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Commission. Its members check the election materials and election complaints, if they have been submitted to the Central Election Commission, at the commission meeting. The commission prepares a report to the Saeima on the approval of the powers of deputies. 

Then the candidates for the post of deputy, elected to the 14th Saeima, all make the same solemn promise:

"I, upon assuming the duties of a Member of the Saeima, before the people of Latvia, do swear (solemnly promise) to be loyal to Latvia, to strengthen its sovereignty and the Latvian language as the only official language, to defend Latvia as an independent and democratic state and to fulfil my duties honestly and conscientiously. I undertake to observe the Constitution and laws of Latvia.”

Each newly elected deputy confirms the promise with his or her signature. It's always interesting to see who attempts to give the oath a bit of drama, who seems nervous, and other little side-acts in what is mainly an administrative process. With 100 deputies to get through, it takes a fair while. 

After giving the solemn promise, the Saeima votes on the draft decision on approving the powers of the 14th Saeima deputies. 

At the first session of the newly elected Saeima, the Presidium of the Saeima – consisting of five MPs: the Speaker, two Deputy Speakers, the Secretary, and the Deputy Secretary – is elected in an open procedure with ballot papers. 

According to the Law on the Establishment of the Cabinet of Ministers, with the meeting of the newly elected Saeima, it is considered that the Cabinet of Ministers has resigned, therefore the session is concluded with the government's statement on the relinquishment of its powers. The current government will continue to perform its duties in an interim capacity until the Saeima has expressed confidence in a new Cabinet of Ministers. With coalition talks now reportedly at a fairly advanced stage, it should be only a week or two until a new government is approved.

The first Saeima was elected in 1922, so the new batch of deputies can be considered the centennial crop.

You will be able to follow the proceedings of the day at the official Saeima website: https://www.saeima.lv/lv and the full rules of procedure can be read at: https://www.saeima.lv/en/about-saeima/work-of-the-saeima/rules-of-procedure/

In his address to Saeima to launch proceedings, President Egils Levits told deputies: "You start work in times of crisis."

Russia's aggression and its invasion of Ukraine represent "the biggest threat to Europe since the Second World War," he said and also mentioned the covid pandemic, which is not over yet and energy price rises as other crisis points.

Therefore, the president emphasized that the next Saeima and government should be reformist in nature Saeima and government. Latvia lags behind the other Baltic states and other neighboring countries in several spheres, so parliamentarians must work so that in four years Latvia will be safer, more competitive and better governed, the president advised. 

In his speech, Levits pointed to three strategic areas that should be given increased attention in order to achieve the above: education, economy and security.

As of 14:20 Tuesday, all elected Saeima deputies but one, Gundars Daudze (Greens and Farmers Union) who was absent, had made the solemn oath and the vote for it had been passed, thus officially confirming the new members in the position. 

For the Speaker of the Saeima, two candidates were put forward: Edvards Smiltēns from the United List and Aleksejs Rosļikovs from the For Stability! party. Smiltēns took the post with 82 votes for him and 11 for Rosļikovs.

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