Saeima adds controversial preamble to Latvia’s Constitution

In its final spring plenary session Thursday, the Latvian Parliament approved the final reading of an additional introductory article, or preamble, to the Latvian Constitution in a move that has been hailed by some as much-needed revision and by others as a piece of pre-election populism. 

Altogether 69 deputies from the ruling coalition parties and independent deputies voted to approve the preamble, while 28 Harmony Center members voted against the constitutional amendment on the basis that it would increase ethnic divisions in society.

The Saeima erupted into applause upon the final count of the votes.

Drafted by Judge Egils Levits at the European Court of Justice, the preamble was first examined by the Saeima’s Legal Committee in September, 2013.

While at the time the bill did not have the support of a majority in parliament, the expanded coalition government approved in January stated its support for subsequent drafts of the preamble, which no longer contained the controversial term “nation-state”. By March the bill was passed onto the Saeima’s plenary agenda, culminating in Thursday’s historic vote.

The approved preamble reads as follows:

“The state of Latvia proclaimed on November 18, 1918 was established by uniting the historic territorial lands of the Latvian people and founded on the incontrovertible will of the Latvian nation and its inalienable right to self-determination, to guarantee the existence and development of the Latvian nation, its language and culture through the centuries, to ensure the freedom of all people in Latvia and to advance their welfare. 

The Latvian people won their nation in their fight for freedom. At their freely elected Constitutional Convention it strengthened the polity and ratified its Constitution.

The Latvian people did not recognize regimes of occupation, resisted them and regained their freedom, on May 4, 1990 renewing national independence on the basis of continuity of the state.  It honors its freedom fighters, remembers the victims of foreign powers, and condemns the totalitarian Communist and National Socialist regimes and their crimes.

As a democratic, rule-of-law, socially responsible and national state, Latvia is founded upon the respect for human dignity and freedom, it recognizes and defends fundamental human rights and respects its minorities. The Latvian people defend their sovereignty, the independence of the Latvian state, its territory, unity and democratic system of governance.

Latvia’s national identity within the culture of Europe has since ancient times been comprised of the traditions of the Latvians and Livs, the Latvian way of life, the Latvian language, universal and Christian values. Loyalty to Latvia, the Latvian language as the only state language, freedom, equality, solidarity, justice, honor, work ethic and family are the basis of a united society. Each cares for themselves, their loved ones and society’s common good, acting with utmost responsibility toward others, future generations, the environment and nature.

Latvia, being an equal partner in the international community, shall protect its state interests and promote the sustainable and democratic development of a united Europe and the world.

God bless Latvia!”

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