Latvia – President Vējonis uses suspensive veto power for the 11th time

Latvia is a parliamentary democracy. Members of Parliament (MPs) elect the President. The President of Latvia is Raimonds Vējonis, who was elected in July 2015 for a four-year term.

One of the president’s legislative powers is to require the parliament to reconsider a law (suspensive veto power). Within ten days of the adoption of a law by the Saeima, the president can require it be reconsidered. If the Saeima passes the law again without amending it, the President cannot then raise an objection a second time. Should, though, the Saeima, by not less than a two-thirds majority vote, determine a law to be urgent, the President cannot request the reconsideration of a law, it may not be submitted to national referendum, and the adopted law shall be proclaimed no later than the third day after the President has received it [1].

President Raimonds Vējonis has used his suspensive veto power 11 times since being elected in July 2015. This is from a total of 654 laws and amendments, including laws determined as urgent, that have been proclaimed from July 8, 2015 until March 6, 2018.

In Latvia there is a standard procedure that the president’s request should be returned to parliament within a period of ten days of the adoption of a law by the Saeima. If the President, in accordance with the provisions of Article 71 of the Constitution of Latvia (Satversme), has requested a law be reconsidered, the Saeima at its next sitting, without holding a debate, forwards the President’s reasoned objections to the responsible committee and to other committees and sets the deadline by which proposals may be submitted and the law reconsidered [2]. When the law is being reconsidered, only the objections raised by the President and the proposals related to these objections are considered. When the law has been passed by the Saeima, the President signs it not earlier than the tenth day and not later than the twenty-first day after the law has been adopted.

During the Presidency of Raimonds Vējonis these procedures have been taken into account. Laws have been passed to the responsible commission within 5 to 13 days of the President’s request. In two cases, laws were then reconsidered within 18, 19 days, in four cases within just over a one month, in two cases it took two months, two cases were reconsidered three to four months, and the latest one, requested on February 9, is still in process.

Eleven written and reasoned requests [3] regarded amendments to laws:

  1. Amendments to the Electronic Media Law were prepared by a Saeima commission.  The  Saeima overrode the President’s request.
  2. Amendments to the Immigration Law were prepared by MPs. Amendments were partly accepted by the Saeima.
  3. Amendments to the Marine Code were prepared by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Saeima accepted the President’s request.
  4. Amendments to the Microenterprise Tax Law were prepared by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Saeima accepted the President’s request.
  5. Amendments to the Law “On Land Privatization in Rural Areas” were prepared by a Saeima commission. Amendments were partly accepted by Saeima.
  6. Amendments to the Alcoholic Beverages Circulation Law were prepared by a Saeima commission. The Saeima accepted the President’s request.
  7. Amendments to the Law on Credit Institutions were prepared by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Saeima overrode the President’s request.
  8. Amendments to the Law on State Administration Structure were prepared by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Saeima accepted the President’s request.
  9. Amendments to the Law on Financial Instruments Market were prepared by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Saeima accepted the President’s request.
  10. Amendments to the Law “On Judicial Power” were prepared by a Saeima commission. The Saeima accepted the President’s request.
  11. Amendments to the Public Procurement Law were prepared by a Saeima commission. The Saeima will evaluate the request on April 19, 2018.

This leads to a conclusion of the importance of cooperation between the President and Parliament. The more the president influences decision-making during the legislative process, the less the President needs to use a suspensive veto.

References:

[1] Constitution of Latvia, Satversme. 1922. (with amendments)

[2] Rules of procedure of Saeima. 1994. (with amendments) Article 115.

[3] President’s Raimonds Vējonis written and reasoned requests, 2015–2018. https://www.president.lv/lv/darbibas-jomas/likumdosanas-un-tiesibu-akti/otrreizejai-caurlukosanai-nodotie-likumi

One thought on “Latvia – President Vējonis uses suspensive veto power for the 11th time

  1. hhocine

    After the collapse of the USSR, Latvia underwent a dramatic transformation by rapidly turning west, joining the EU and Nato in 2004 and the eurozone in 2014. As with its Baltic neighbours, Latvia has had a contentious relationship with Russia, and the rights of Latvia’s ethnic Russian inhabitants (who make up about a quarter of its 2.1m population) remain a thorny issue. Many Latvians believe the influx of migrants from the USSR during decades of Soviet control was part of a concerted effort to destroy Latvian nationalism and Baltic culture, and recent government policies promoting the use of Latvian over Russian have been a source of tension.

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