"Latvia"
50 Years of Terror Tyranny and Oppression 1940–1991
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Republic of Latvia Government 
 
 
 
History of Legislature
 
The People’s Council
 
The Republic of Latvia was proclaimed on 18 November 1918. Its first legislative institution the People’s Council, was established as a body of 40 members on 17 November 1918, as a result of an agreement among eight of Latvia’s democratic political parties and in co-operation with a representative of the Latgale Land Council. The political situation was such that elections could not be held at that time.
 
Mandates in the Council were not granted to individual persons. Each party had a certain number of seats in the Council, and these were filled by members authorized by the party. The members were often replaced. There were 183 seats in the Council, although the exact number of members is not known; historians cite two figures – 245 and 297.
 
The People’s Council held 57 general meetings. It had 22 standing committees. The Council elaborated a political platform which can be regarded as the first provisional Constitution “Satversme” of the Republic of Latvia, and it adopted several important laws on rural local governments and their election, on the Latvian monetary system, on educational institutions, on citizenship, and on the election of the Constitutional Assembly.
 
The People’s Council functioned until 30 April 1920. Its President was Janis Cakste, though he began chairing Council meetings only as of 13 July 1919.
 
The Constitutional Assembly
 
The Constitutional Assembly was Latvia’s first elected legislative body. Elections were held on the 17 and 18 of April 1920, and 84.9 % of those who had suffrage “677, 084 people” voted. There were 57 candidate lists covering 5 constituencies, and 16 of the lists won seats in the Assembly. One hundred fifty members, including 5 women, were elected altogether.
 
The Constitutional Assembly drafted the basic law of the state “the Satversme” as well as other laws. It adopted a law on agrarian reform, a law on the election of the Saeima “Parliament”, and other laws. The Constitutional Assembly had 21 standing committees. It held 213 plenary sessions and adopted 205 laws and 291 regulations having the force of law. The President of the Constitutional Assembly was Janis Cakste. The Assembly functioned until 7 November 1922.
 
The First Saeima
 
The legislative work that was begun by the Constitutional Assembly was continued by the Saeima.
 
Under the Satversme, the Saeima was to be elected for a term of three years in general, equal, direct, secret and proportional elections. The mandate of the current Saeima ended when the new Saeima convened for its first session.
 
Elections of the 1st Saeima were held on the 7 and 8 of October 1922. A total of 82.2% "800,840 eligible voters" participated. Eighty-eight candidate lists were submitted, and 46 lists won seats in the Saeima.
 
Of the 100 elected Saeima Members, 84 were Latvians; 62 had a higher education, 22 had a secondary education, 7 had completed teacher training colleges and 9 had a primary education.  The statistical data change as the composition of the Saeima changes.
 
The number of parliamentary groups changed; when the 1st Saeima began its work there were 20 parliamentary groups. In the 1st Saeima there were 20 standing committees. It held 214 plenary sessions at which 343 draft laws were debated. Among the most important laws adopted were laws on the structure of the Cabinet of Ministers; on associations, unions and political organizations; and on meetings. The first Chairman of the Saeima was Fridrihs Vesmanis. On 20 March 1925, he was succeeded by Dr. Pauls Kalnins.
 
The Second Saeima
 
Elections of the 2nd Saeima were held on the 3 and 4 of October 1925. The turnout in the voting was 74.9% “838,800 eligible voters”. Of the 141 candidate lists submitted, 48 won seats in the Saeima.
 
Of the 100 Saeima Members, 84 were Latvians; 55 had a higher education, 30 had a secondary education, and 15 had a primary education. The statistical data change as the composition of the Saeima changes.
 
The number of parliamentary groups in the 2nd Saeima changed, and at the beginning their number was 27. The 2nd Saeima had 20 standing committees. At 214 plenary sessions, 335 draft laws were debated. The 2nd Saeima focused on social and economic issues. The Chairman of the 2nd Saeima was Dr. Pauls Kalnins.
 
The Third Saeima
 
Elections of the 3rd Saeima were held on the 6 and 7of October 1928. The turnout was 79.3% “937,968 eligible voters”. Of 120 candidate lists, 54 won seats in the Saeima. Beginning with these elections, the submitters of each list had to pay a security deposit of 1,000 lats. The money was returned if at least one candidate from the list was elected in at least one of the constituencies.
 
Of the 100 Saeima Members, 80 were Latvians; 54 had a higher education, 28 had a secondary education, 4 had a higher or secondary military education and 14 had a primary education. The statistical data change as the composition of the Saeima changes.
 
There were 20 Standing Committees and 28 parliamentary groups in the 3rd Saeima. A total of 223 plenary sessions were held, and 344 draft laws were debated. The Chairman of the 3rd Saeima was Dr. Pauls Kalnins.
 
The Fourth Saeima
 
Elections of the 4th Saeima were held on the 3 and 4 of October 1931. The turnout was 80% “974,822 eligible voters”. Of the 103 candidate lists submitted, 57 won seats in the Saeima.
 
Of the elected 100 Members, one was a woman; 83 were Latvians; 43 had a higher education, 39 had a secondary education, 12 had been educated at folk schools, 3 at military schools, 1 at an agricultural school, 1 at a trade school, and 1 Member was self-educated. The statistical data change as the composition of the Saeima changes.
 
The 4th Saeima had 18 standing committees and 25 parliamentary groups. During 185 plenary sessions, 312 draft laws were debated. Dr. Pauls Kalnins was again the Chairman of the Saeima. 
 
The 4th Saeima was dissolved after the coup of 15 May 1934, and its functions were taken over by the Cabinet of Ministers.
 
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia
 
Elections of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia were held on 18 March 1990. For the first time since the Soviet occupation, candidates from various political movements were allowed to run for parliament. The turnout was 81.25% “1,593,019 eligible voters”.
 
Of the elected 201 members, 9 were women; 139 were Latvians; 185 had a higher education, 5 had an incomplete higher education, and 11 had a secondary education. The statistical data change as the composition of the Supreme Council changes.
 
There were 16 standing committees in the Supreme Council. The Supreme Council held 389 plenary sessions and adopted 404 laws, including the Constitutional Law on the Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person. The 1937 Civil Law was reinstated, and laws were drafted to initiate the privatization process.
 
The Supreme Council specified a transition period for the de facto restoration of independent statehood. The transition period ended with the convening of the 5th Saeima. The Chairman of the Supreme Council was Anatolijs Gorbunovs.