Latvia is a parliamentary republic, the Constitution of 1922 is in force. Check computerminus for political system of Latvia.
Administrative division – 26 districts, 70 cities, 483 volosts. The largest cities (thousand people): Riga, Daugavpils (115), Jelgava (71), Liepaja (59), Ventspils (47).
State power in accordance with the Constitution is exercised by the Seimas, the President and the Government.
The highest legislative body is the Saeima (unicameral parliament), consisting of 100 deputies elected by universal, direct, secret suffrage for 4 years on the basis of proportional representation (40 parties and political organizations are registered in Latvia). The Seimas elects the president, discusses legislative acts, approves or rejects the candidacy of the prime minister appointed by the president, and forms the government of the country.
Elections of the next (8th) Seimas, held on October 5, 2002, demonstrated the previous trend towards the predominance of right-wing conservative, nationally oriented forces. The election was won by the one created in con. 2001 right-wing New Time party led by E. Repse, chairman of the Bank of Latvia in 1991-2002. The second place was taken by the association “ZaPCHEL” (“For human rights in united Latvia”). These are the parties of the left forces – the Socialist Party of Latvia, the Party of National Accord (PNS) and the Ravnopravie party, which defends the rights of the Russian national minority. Later, a split occurred in the association, and the PNS withdrew from the bloc. The ruling coalition in the Seimas: the Repše Party – 26 mandates, SZK (Union of Greens and Peasants) – 12 and LPP (Latvian First Party) – 10, created in 2002, TB / DNNL (association of the Fatherland and Freedom Party and the Movement for the National Independence of Latvia) – 7 mandates. Opposition: People’s Party (NP, leader A. Shkele, former Prime Minister) – 20 mandates, People’s Consent Party (leader J. Jurkans) – 17 and ZaPcHeL faction – 8 mandates. The composition of the parliament was significantly updated, 33 deputies were re-elected. I. Undre (JCC) became the Chairman of the Seimas.
The head of state is the president, elected by the Seimas for four years, but not more than two consecutive terms, approves laws, appoints a candidate for the post of prime minister, and performs representative functions. Vaira Vike-Freiberga won the 1999 presidential election, replacing G. Ulmanis. She became one of four women in the world holding such a high position. After taking office, the new president rejected the Law on the State Language adopted by the Saeima, which made Russian a “foreign” language in Latvia. On June 20, 2003 Vaira Vike-Freiberga was re-elected for a new term.
The highest body of executive power, the Cabinet of Ministers, is formed by the Seimas. The composition of the new coalition government of the country was approved at an extraordinary meeting on March 9, 2004. Indulis Emsis, former deputy chairman of the SZK parliamentary faction, chairman of the parliamentary commission on the national economy and co-chairman of the Green Party » Latvia. The government includes representatives of the SZK, PN and LPP, who have 46 mandates out of 100 in the Seimas, but the partners in the ruling coalition are convinced that the minority government will receive the support of the parliamentary majority after some time.
The most important policy statements of the new government are: the desire to fully use the opportunities provided by Latvia from joining the European Union and NATO, the successful defense of Latvia’s national interests, the resumption of dialogue with Russia, primarily the development of economic cooperation between the two countries, which over time will also contribute to political dialogue. The coalition parties insist on the need for a balanced fiscal policy and keeping the budget deficit below 2%. They intend to improve the well-being of every inhabitant of Latvia by bringing the minimum wage closer to the subsistence level, indexing pensions at least twice a year, contributing to employment growth and poverty eradication.
Among the leading public organizations, we can single out the Union of Free Trade Unions of Latvia (LUTS). The Latvian Association of Russian Communities, the Balto-Slavic Society for Cultural Development and Cooperation represent the interests of the Russian-speaking population of the republic.
NATO membership is one of the main objectives of Latvia’s foreign and defense policy. In 2002, 1.75% of GDP was spent on defense. The preparation and reform of the national defense system are carried out in accordance with NATO standards. The regular Armed Forces of Latvia consist of 6,500 people, which include 2,350 soldiers and officers of the National Guard (the reserve is 14,400 people – 5-7 motorized infantry brigades), border troops – 3,500 people. The ground forces consist of a motorized infantry brigade, a reconnaissance battalion, an artillery unit, a company of peacekeepers, and a special forces group. In service are 3 T-55 tanks, received at one time from the Czech Republic, 13 M42 armored personnel carriers, 2 BRDM-2, approx. 30 Swedish and Danish 100 mm towed guns, up to 40 mortars of 82 and 120 mm caliber. There are also air defense forces – approx. 40 anti-aircraft artillery and rocket launchers. The Air Force has approx. 200 people, 2 An-2, L-410 aircraft, 3 Mi-2 and Mi-8 helicopters. Navy – St. 800 people (including 250 soldiers of the so-called security battalion), 3 patrol boats, 3 minesweepers.
Latvia has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established on October 4, 1991).