Latvian Parliamentary Elections 101

August 11, 2022

Get ready to vote!

 

Elections for the 14th Latvian parliament, the Saeima, are going to be held on October 1, 2022.

We urge all Latvian citizens residing in Canada to exercise their right to vote. Our votes will help determine the future course of Latvia.

How the Latvian parliamentary system works:
- the Saeima is the Latvian parliament consisting of 100 members, with elections held every four years
- Latvia has five electoral districts: Rīga, Vidzeme, Latgale, Zemgale and Kurzeme
- Latvian citizens residing outside of Latvia are considered part of the Rīga electoral district, and vote for candidates running in the Rīga electoral district
- the number of candidates elected from each electoral district is determined by the proportion of citizens living in that riding
- in the 2022 elections, 36 of the 100 seats will be filled by candidates from the Rīga electoral district
- political parties submit a slate of candidates for each electoral district in which they wish to run
- within a party’s slate of candidates, the party ranks its candidates in order of importance with party leaders and the most popular candidates at the top of the list
- each voter first chooses the party that they wish to vote for
- the voter then has the opportunity to adjust the order of the candidates, by putting a plus beside any candidate that they would like to move up the list or a minus beside any candidate that they would like to move down the list; this can have a significant impact on who actually gets a seat
- to obtain any seats in the Saeima, a political party must receive at least 5% of the popular vote across all of Latvia
- parties that achieve more than 5% are allocated seats in the Saeima proportionate to the percentage of votes they received in each electoral district
- seats are awarded to the candidates who are highest on each party’s list, after all the pluses and minuses have been applied, adjusting the order of the candidates

Who can vote:
- Latvian citizens who are over the age of 18

How to vote:
- you can vote by mail or in person

How to sign up to vote by mail:
- you can sign up to vote by mail from July 23 to September 9
- your submission can be by mail, email (if you have a valid eID and e-signature), or in person at the Latvian Embassy in Ottawa
- if you use regular mail or apply in person, here is the address of the Embassy: Embassy of the Republic of Latvia, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1200, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7S8
- if you apply by email, the email address is consulate.canada@mfa.gov.lv. Please note that if you apply by e-mail, you need to sign the email with a valid Latvian e-signature.
- Your application must state your given name, surname, Latvian personal identity number (personas kods), phone number and e-mail address, together with your physical or e-signature as applicable
- if you have supplied a valid application, you will receive an e-mail with your voting materials together with instructions sometime between September 10 and 16
- when you receive your voting materials, you will need to follow the included instructions, cast your vote, and mail your vote to the designated voting station, so that it reaches the voting station by October 1
- here is a sample application form, to be sent to the Latvian Embassy in Ottawa (in Latvian):

Download Application Form

Regarding your signature, please note:
- your voting application must have a valid signature in order to be accepted
- if you are mailing your application by snail mail or applying in person, you must physically sign your application
- if you are applying via e-mail, you must sign your application with a valid e-signature tied to your valid eID
- a scan of your signature is NOT a valid e-signature

- starting August 27, you will also be able to go online to register to vote either at the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs website www.pmlp.gov.lv or at www.latvija.lv. Please note that to register online, you will need either a valid e-signature, or a Latvian bank account with internet access.
- even when you register online, your voting materials will be delivered to you via e-mail, and you will need to complete your vote and send it in via snail mail; you cannot actually vote online.

- If you sign up to vote by mail, and later decide that you would rather vote in person at a voting station, that is permitted.

How to vote in person:
- you can vote at any voting station in Latvia or outside Latvia
- there are going to be four voting stations in Canada: Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver
- to vote in person, you must present a valid, unexpired Latvian passport OR a Latvian passport that expired March 1, 2020 or later*, OR a valid, unexpired Latvian eID card

 Let us repeat re passports and eID’s:
- if you want to vote by mail:

         - if you sign up by snail mail, it is OK if your passport or eID has expired, as long as you have your Latvian personal identity number
         -  if you sign up in person at the Latvian Embassy in Ottawa, it is OK if your passport or eID has expired, as long as you have your Latvian personal identity number
        - if you want to sign up by sending an email, you need to have a valid eID and will need to create (if you don't already have one) and provide a valid Latvian e-signature
        - if you sign up online (starting Aug. 27), you need to have a valid e-signature, or a Latvian bank account with internet access
- if you vote in person at one of the voting stations, you MUST have a valid, unexpired Latvian passport OR a Latvian passport that expired March 1, 2020 or later*, OR a valid, unexpired Latvian eID card

 

Where to find more information on the voting process:
- the PBLA (World Federation of Free Latvians) website called Jābalso: www.jabalso.lv/ka-balsot; you will see a power point presentation in English that you can download
- the Central Election Commission of Latvia’s website www.cvk.lv/en

Whom should you vote for? Where can you find more information?
Be an informed voter! There are various ways to educate yourself. The more we all read, watch and follow the media (with a critical eye), the more we discuss the various parties, platforms, and candidates with one another, the more intelligently we will be able to vote. There will be online debates and discussions organized by PBLA (World Federation of Free Latvians) and its member organizations, as well as by the Latvian media. LNFC will be informing Latvian Canadians about these events and resources on our website www.lnak.net and on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/latviancanadians.

Sources of information:

  • the Central Election Commission of Latvia’s website www.cvk.lv, which is the official election information website
            - you can find detailed information about each of the candidates at https://sv2022.cvk.lv/pub/kandidati, including political party, which electoral district they are running in, birthdate, declared education, work experience, financial status, etc.
            - from the same web page you can click on each party to read the party's official party platform
            - the parties’ slates of candidates in each riding have been confirmed and are published on the website
    - the PBLA (World Federation of Free Latvians) website dedicated to these elections: www.jabalso.lv
            - the website contains both detailed and simplified instructions on how to vote
            - it also provides links to informative articles about the political landscape; additionally, PBLA is organizing a series of debates on August 31, September 7 and September 14, all at 8:30 am EDT, that can be viewed on the www.jabalso.lv website, or the PBLA Facebook page

Do your part for Latvia!

Educate yourself and vote!

 Saeimas zale

* This article was updated on September 1.  The Saeima passed legislation on August 30 which allows Latvian citizens to vote in person on October 1 even if their passport has expired, providing that the passport expired on or after March 1, 2020.