Latvian lawmakers vote down president's citizenship initiative to save coalition

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-21 23:19:48|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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RIGA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Latvian lawmakers on Thursday voted down President Raimonds Vejonis' legislative initiative that would allow non-citizens' children to become Latvian citizens at birth.

The bill on ending the practice of registering non-citizens' newborn children as non-citizens was supported by 39 out of Latvia's 100 members of parliament, which was insufficient to continue the adoption of the draft legislation.

Several opposition parties and politicians representing Latvia's center-right government coalition had earlier praised the president's initiative. But its passage in the parliament was scuppered by one coalition partner, the right-wing National Alliance, which threatened to veto the bill under the existing tripartite coalition agreement.

Since neither the centrist Greens and Farmers Union nor the center-right Unity party wanted to let the coalition with the National Alliance disintegrate, they yielded to the pressure.

They voted against the president's proposal to stop registering non-citizens' children, born after June 1, 2018, as non-citizens and grant them Latvian citizenship unless their parents choose to register them as citizens of some other country.

The president argued that the new regulation would help consolidate the Latvian nation on the basis of common values.

The National Alliance objected saying that such a measure could only be taken along with a transition to Latvian as the only language of instruction in Latvia's public schools. Latvian citizenship is already easily available to non-citizens' children born in Latvia, the National Alliance said.

Under the current legislation, effective since 2013, non-citizens' children can be registered as Latvian citizens if at least one of the parents has expressly declared such a wish.

Since the mid-1990s -- when non-citizens made up 29 percent of Latvia's population -- their share has contracted to 11 percent, according to the Latvian citizenship and migration authority.