Latvia referendum to amend constitution fails for lack of votes

[JURIST] Provisional vote results for a Latvian referendum [fact sheet, PDF] held Saturday on a proposed amendment [text] to the country's constitution [text, PDF] that would have given voters the power to dissolve the country's parliament, the Saeima [official websites], indicated Sunday that the referendum failed because of low voter turnout. The amendment specifically provides:

Electors, in number comprising not less than one-tenth of the electorate, have the right to submit a fully elaborated draft of an amendment to the Constitution or of a law, or a draft decision about dissolution of the Saeima to the President, who shall submit it to the Saeima. If the Saeima does not adopt it without change as to its content, it shall then be put to a national referendum.
According to the Latvian Law on National Referendums and Legislative Initiatives [text], the referendum would have needed the support of half the voting population. Provisional poll results showed that most of the electorate supported the movement, but that less than half participated in the vote. Official poll results are expected to be released later this month. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Latvia joined NATO in April 2004, and a month later the country officially entered the European Union (EU) [JURIST reports]. The Latvian parliament has since adopted [JURIST report] the new EU reform treaty [JURIST news archive], properly known as the Treaty of Lisbon [text, PDF; official website], but some voters remain discontented with the government and say that Latvian MPs do not act in accordance with voters' wishes. Approval of the dissolution referendum would have marked the first time voters in an EU state would have had the power to dissolve their parliament directly.


 

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