Signature campaign to begin in Latvia over controversial amendments to municipal election law

Source: Xinhua| 2019-12-28 00:19:13|Editor: yhy
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RIGA, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- A signature campaign will start in Latvia in mid-January in a bid to stop controversial amendments to the municipal election law coming into effect, the Baltic country's election authority announced on Friday.

Eligible voters will be able to sign the petition against the disputed amendments from Jan. 16 to Feb. 14, 2020, the Central Election Commission said.

After lengthy debate last week, the parliament adopted legislative amendments allowing to elect municipal councils for a term of more than five years, which means that if current Riga City Council is dissolved as proposed by the Regional Development Ministry, the next council could remain in office for more than five years.

On Monday, President Egils Levits decided not to sign the amendments into law after a group of 41 lawmakers submitted a petition calling against the bill's promulgation.

The bill has been severely criticized by the Latvian parliament's law experts, opposition parties and also several members of the ruling center-right government coalition as unconstitutional.

According to the Latvian constitution, the president has to postpone the promulgation of a bill for two months if the delay is requested by more than a third of the parliament. If during that two-month period a petition against the bill is signed by at least 10 percent of the eligible voters, a referendum has to be held to adopt or reject the legislation.

Meanwhile, a bill on the dissolution of current Riga City Council has been approved by the government and reached the parliament, but its adoption is unlikely to be completed before the suspended amendments to the law on local governments and the law on municipal elections are signed into law.

Regional Development Minister Juris Puce initiated the dissolution of the city council on the grounds that the local authority has been unable to properly organize waste management in the city. The minister called for the measure after several unsuccessful tenders were held in Riga to find a provider of waste management services.