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Local and regional democracy in Latvia

34th session Strasbourg 27 March 2017
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Local and regional democracy in Latvia

An overall positive situation of local self-government in Latvia, together with the extensive autonomy of local authorities were welcomed in a report adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, during its 34th Session, on 27 March 2018 in Strasbourg, France. The co-rapporteurs, Xavier CADORET (France, SOC) and Marc COOLS (Belgium, ILDG), presented these conclusions following a monitoring visit to the country from 12 to 14 September 2017.

Xavier CADORET underlined the significant endeavors concerning decentralization that Latvia put in place during the last twenty years. He welcomed the fact that State intervention in local affairs is strictly limited and regulated by the law, and praised, in particular, the systematic references made in the Constitutional Court’s case-law to the European Charter of Local Self-Government which was ratified by Latvia in 1996, thus ensuring its applicability. “We also observed a fruitful dialogue and negotiation between the central government and the local authorities”, stated Marc COOLS.

Nevertheless, the report highlighted several points which need to be examined by the authorities of Latvia in order to further improve the democratic framework. “The system of competences should be clarified, as the overlapping between local and central competences must be avoided” said Marc COOLS, who stressed the need to ensure that local authorities have full discretion to manage their own competences. The granting of longer time-spans for consultation mechanisms of local authorities, in order to make them more effective, was equally pointed out in the report.

The Congress recommends that the Latvian authorities grant voting rights to local elections for non-citizens to guarantee a better exercise of political rights by this part of the population. The Congress also invites the authorities to ratify the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority.

Latvia ratified the European Charter of Local Self Government in 1996. The countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires compliance with a minimum number of rights, which form the European foundation for local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities ensures that these principles are observed.

** 34th Session of the Congress **

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