Regional reform would eliminate standalone cities except Rīga and Jūrmala

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With the regional reform, which is to be published April 10, regions would be centered around towns, and only Rīga and Jūrmala could be left without a rural community, said Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce (Development/For!) in an interview with LSM's Latvian-language service.

Pūce said that the regional reform would depend on the number of school-age children in a given municipality. "This makes it easy for experts and demographers to estimate the minimum required number of children to set up a municipality. A model like this would lead to the conclusion that a municipality has to have a minimum of 11,000 to 14,000 people," he said.

The new model would create municipalities around towns. Pūce said that the concept of republican cities has outlived its time and that a single municipal territory should be set up around each regional center. 

But Rīga and Jūrmala could be an exception. "Rīga is a much larger development center than its outlying municipalities. Its reach is practically tens of kilometers. Meanwhile the regions near Rīga have enough people to have independent municipalities. They have enough power on their own, and basically new towns are springing up there," he said.

Listen to Pūce outline the planned regional reform – that would at least halve the number of municipalities in Latvia – in an interview with LSM

The ultimate aim is to have the new system in place and fully functioning by the time of the next scheduled Saeima elections in 2021.

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