The people of Latvia, in freely elected Constitutional
Assembly, have adopted the following State Constitution:
1. Latvia is an independent democratic republic.
2. The sovereign power of the State of Latvia is
vested in the people of Latvia.
3. The territory of the State of Latvia, within
the borders established by international agreements, consists of Vidzeme, Latgale,
Kurzeme and Zemgale.
4. The Latvian language is the official language
in the Republic of Latvia. The national flag of Latvia shall be red with a band
[15 October 1998]
5. The Saeima shall be composed of one hundred
representatives of the people.
6. The Saeima shall be elected in general,
equal and direct elections, and by secret ballot based on proportional representation.
7. In the division of Latvia into separate electoral
districts, provision for the number of members of the Saeima to be elected
from each district shall be proportional to the number of electors in each district.
8. All citizens of Latvia who enjoy full rights
of citizenship and, who on election day have attained eighteen years of age
shall be entitled to vote.
9. Any citizen of Latvia, who enjoys full rights
of citizenship and, who is more than twenty-one years of age on the first day
of elections may be elected to the Saeima.
10. The Saeima shall be elected for a term
of four years.
11. Elections for the Saeima shall be held
on the first Saturday in October.
12. The newly elected Saeima shall hold
its first sitting on the first Tuesday in November, when the mandate of the
previous Saeima shall expire.
13. Should elections for the Saeima, by
reason of the dissolution of the previous Saeima, be held at another
time of the year, the Saeima so elected shall convene not later than
one month after its election, and its mandate shall expire upon the convening
of the new Saeima on the first Tuesday in November following the elapse
of three years after such election.
14. The electors may not recall any individual
member of the Saeima.
15. The Saeima shall hold its sittings in
Riga, and only in extraordinary circumstances may it convene elsewhere.
16. The Saeima shall elect a Presidium that
shall be composed of a Chairperson, two Deputies and Secretaries. The Presidium
shall function continuously during the mandate of the Saeima.
17. The first sitting of the newly elected Saeima
shall be opened by the Chairperson of the preceding Saeima or by another
member of the Presidium at the direction of the Presidium.
18. The Saeima itself shall review the qualifications
of its members.
A person elected to the Saeima shall acquire
the mandate of a Member of the Saeima if such person gives the following
"I, upon assuming the duties of a Member of the
Saeima, before the people of Latvia, do swear (solemnly promise) to be
loyal to Latvia, to strengthen its sovereignty and the Latvian language as the
only official language, to defend Latvia as an independent and democratic State,
and to fulfil my duties honestly and conscientiously. I undertake to observe
the Constitution and laws of Latvia."
19. The Presidium shall convene sessions of the
Saeima and schedule regular and extraordinary sittings.
20. The Presidium shall convene sittings of the
Saeima if requested by the President, the Prime Minister, or not less
than one third of the members of the Saeima.
21. The Saeima shall establish rules of
order to provide for its internal operations and order. The working language
of the Saeima is the Latvian language.
22. Sittings of the Saeima shall be public.
The Saeima may decide by a majority vote of not less than two-thirds
of the members present to sit in closed session, if so requested by ten members
of the Saeima, or by the President, the Prime Minister, or a Minister.
23. Sittings of the Saeima may take place
if at least half of the members of the Saeima participate therein.
24. The Saeima shall make decisions by an
absolute majority of votes of the members present at the sitting, except in
cases specifically set out in the Constitution.
25. The Saeima shall establish committees
and determine the number of members and their duties. Committees have the right
to require of individual Ministers or local government authorities information
and explanations necessary for the work of the committees, and the right to
invite to their sittings responsible representatives from the relevant ministries
or local government authorities to furnish explanations. Committees may also
carry on their work between sessions of the Saeima.
26. The Saeima shall appoint parliamentary
investigatory committees for specified matters if not less than one-third of
its members request it.
27. The Saeima shall have the right to submit
to the Prime Minister or to an individual Minister requests and questions which
either they, or a responsible government official duly authorised by them, must
answer. The Prime Minister or any Minister shall furnish the relevant documents
and enactments requested by the Saeima or by any of its committees.
28. Members of the Saeima may not be called
to account by any judicial, administrative or disciplinary process in connection
with their voting or their views as expressed during the execution of their
duties. Court proceedings may be brought against members of the Saeima
if they, albeit in the course of performing parliamentary duties, disseminate:
1) defamatory statements which they know to be
2) defamatory statements about private or family
29. Members of the Saeima shall not be arrested,
nor shall their premises be searched, nor shall their personal liberty be restricted
in any way without the consent of the Saeima. Members of the Saeima
may be arrested if apprehended in the act of committing a crime. The Presidium
shall be notified within twenty-four hours of the arrest of any member of the
Saeima; the Presidium shall raise the matter at the next sitting of the
Saeima for decision as to whether the member shall continue to be held
in detention or be released. When the Saeima is not in session, pending
the opening of a session, the Presidium shall decide whether the member of the
Saeima shall remain in detention.
30. Without the consent of the Saeima, criminal
prosecution may not be commenced and administrative fines may not be levied
against its members.
31. Members of the Saeima have the right
to refuse to give evidence:
1) concerning persons who have entrusted to them,
as representatives of the people, certain facts or information;
2) concerning persons to whom they, as representatives
of the people, have entrusted certain facts or information; or
3) concerning such facts or information itself.
32. Members of the Saeima may not, either
personally or in the name of another person, receive government contracts or
concessions. The provisions of this Article shall apply to Ministers even if
they are not members of the Saeima.
33. The remuneration of members of the Saeima
shall be from state funds.
34. No person may be called to account for reporting
the sittings of the Saeima or its committees if such reports correspond
to fact. Information about closed sessions of either the Saeima or its
committees may only be disclosed with the permission of the Presidium of the
Saeima or the committee.
[27 January 1994; 4 December 1997; 15 October 1998;
30 April 2002]
35. The Saeima shall elect the President for a
term of four years.
36. The President shall be elected by secret ballot
with a majority of the votes of not less than fifty-one members of the Saeima.
37. Any person who enjoys full rights of citizenship
and who has attained the age of forty years may be elected President. A person
with dual citizenship may not be elected President.
38. The office of the President shall not be held
concurrently with any other office. If the person elected as President is a
member of the Saeima, he or she shall resign his or her mandate as a
member of the Saeima.
39. The same person shall not hold office as President
for more than eight consecutive years.
40.The President, at the first sitting
of the Saeima held after the election of the President, on assuming office,
shall take the following solemn oath:
I swear that all of my work will be dedicated
to the welfare of the people of Latvia. I will do everything in my power to
promote the prosperity of the Republic of Latvia and all who live here. I will
hold sacred and will observe the Constitution of Latvia and the laws of the
State. I will act justly towards all and will fulfil my duties conscientiously.
41. The President shall represent the State in
international relations, appoint the diplomatic representatives of Latvia, and
also receive diplomatic representatives of other states. The President shall
implement the decisions of the Saeima concerning the ratification of
42. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief
of the armed forces of Latvia.During wartime, the President shall appoint
a Supreme Commander.
43. The President shall declare war on the basis
of a decision of the Saeima.
44. The President has the right to take whatever
steps are necessary for the military defence of the State should another state
declare war on Latvia or an enemy invade its borders. Concurrently and without
delay, the President shall convene the Saeima, which shall decide as
to the declaration and commencement of war.
45. The President has the right to grant clemency
to criminals against whom judgment of the court has come into legal effect.
The extent of, and procedures for, the utilisation of this right shall be set
out in a specific law. Amnesty is granted by the Saeima.
46. The President has the right to convene and
to preside over extraordinary meetings of the Cabinet and to determine the agenda
of such meetings.
47. The President has the right to initiate legislation.
48. The President shall be entitled to propose
the dissolution of the Saeima. Following this proposal, a national referendum
shall be held. If in the referendum more than half of the votes are cast in
favour of dissolution, the Saeima shall be considered dissolved, new
elections called, and such elections held no later than two months after the
date of the dissolution of the Saeima.
49. If the Saeima has been dissolved, the
mandate of the members of the Saeima shall continue in effect until the
newly elected Saeima has convened, but the dissolved Saeima may
only hold sittings at the request of the President. The agenda of such sittings
shall be determined by the President.
50. If in the referendum more than half of the
votes are cast against the dissolution of the Saeima, then the President
shall be deemed to be removed from office, and the Saeima shall elect
a new President to serve for the remaining term of office of the President so
51. Upon the proposal of not less than half of
all of the members of the Saeima, the Saeima may decide, in closed
session and with a majority vote of not less than two-thirds of all of its members,
to remove the President from office.
52. If the President resigns from office, dies
or is removed from office before their term has ended, the Chairperson of the
Saeima shall assume the duties of the President until the Saeima
has elected a new President. Similarly, the Chairperson of the Saeima
shall assume the duties of the President if the latter is away from Latvia or
for any other reason unable to fulfil the duties of office.
53. Political responsibility for the fulfilment
of presidential duties shall not be borne by the President. All orders of the
President shall be jointly signed by the Prime Minister or by the appropriate
Minister, who shall thereby assume full responsibility for such orders except
in the cases specified in Articles forty-eight and fifty-six.
54. The President may be subject to criminal liability
if the Saeima consents thereto by a majority vote of not less than two-thirds.
[4 December 1997]
55. The Cabinet shall be composed of the Prime
Minister and the Ministers chosen by the Prime Minister.
56. The Cabinet shall be formed by the person who
has been invited by the President to do so.
57. The number of ministries and the scope of their
responsibilities, as well as the relations between State institutions, shall
be as provided for by law.
58. The administrative institutions of the State
shall be under the authority of the Cabinet.
59. In order to fulfil their duties, the Prime
Minister and other Ministers must have the confidence of the Saeima and
they shall be accountable to the Saeima for their actions. If the Saeima
expresses no confidence in the Prime Minister, the entire Cabinet shall resign.
If there is an expression of no confidence in an individual Minister, then the
Minister shall resign and another person shall be invited to replace them by
the Prime Minister.
60. Meetings of the Cabinet shall be chaired by
the Prime Minister, and in the absence of the Prime Minister, by a Minister
authorised to do so by the Prime Minister.
61. The Cabinet shall deliberate draft laws prepared
by individual ministries as well as matters which pertain to the activities
of more than one ministry, and issues of State policy raised by individual members
62. If the State is threatened by an external enemy,
or if an internal insurrection which endangers the existing political system
arises or threatens to arise in the State or in any part of the State, the Cabinet
has the right to proclaim a state of emergency and shall inform the Presidium
within twenty-four hours and the Presidium shall, without delay, present such
decision of the Cabinet to the Saeima.
63. Ministers, even if they are not members of
the Saeima, and responsible government officials authorised by a Minister,
have the right to attend sittings of the Saeima and its committees and
to submit additions and amendments to draft laws.
64. The Saeima, and also the people, have
the right to legislate, in accordance with the procedures, and to the extent,
provided for by this Constitution.
65. Draft laws may be submitted to the Saeima
by the President, the Cabinet or committees of the Saeima, by not less
than five members of the Saeima, or, in accordance with the procedures
and in the cases provided for in this Constitution, by one-tenth of the electorate.
66. Annually, before the commencement of each financial
year, the Saeima shall determine the State Revenues and Expenditures
Budget, the draft of which shall be submitted to the Saeima by the Cabinet.
If the Saeima makes a decision that involves
expenditures not included in the Budget, then this decision must also allocate
funds to cover such expenditures.
After the end of the budgetary year, the Cabinet
shall submit an accounting of budgetary expenditures for the approval of the
67. The Saeima shall determine the size
of the armed forces of the State during peacetime.
68. All international agreements, which settle
matters that may be decided by the legislative process, shall require ratification
by the Saeima.
69. The President shall proclaim laws passed by
the Saeima not earlier than the seventh day and not later than the twenty-first
day after the law has been adopted. A law shall come into force fourteen days
after its proclamation unless a different term has been specified in the law.
70. The President shall proclaim adopted laws in
the following manner:
The Saeima (that is, the People) has
adopted and the President has proclaimed the following law: (text of the law).
71. Within seven days of the adoption of a law
by the Saeima, the President, by means of a written and reasoned request
to the Chairperson of the Saeima, may require that a law be reconsidered.
If the Saeima does not amend the law, the President then may not raise
objections a second time.
72. The President has the right to suspend the
proclamation of a law for a period of two months. The President shall suspend
the proclamation of a law if so requested by not less than one-third of the
members of the Saeima. This right may be exercised by the President,
or by one-third of the members of the Saeima, within seven days of the
adoption of the law by the Saeima. The law thus suspended shall be put
to a national referendum if so requested by not less than one-tenth of the electorate.
If no such request is received during the aforementioned two-month period, the
law shall then be proclaimed after the expiration of such period. A national
referendum shall not take place, however, if the Saeima again votes on
the law and not less than three-quarters of all members of the Saeima
vote for the adoption of the law.
73. The Budget and laws concerning loans, taxes,
customs duties, railroad tariffs, military conscription, declaration and commencement
of war, peace treaties, declaration of a state of emergency and its termination,
mobilisation and demobilisation, as well as agreements with other nations may
not be submitted to national referendum.
74. A law adopted by the Saeima and suspended
pursuant to the procedures specified in Article seventy-two shall be repealed
by national referendum if the number of voters is at least half of the number
of electors as participated in the previous Saeima election and if the
majority has voted for repeal of the law.
75. Should the Saeima, by not less than
a two thirds majority vote, determine a law to be urgent, the President may
not request reconsideration of such 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.
76. The Saeima may amend the Constitution
in sittings at which at least two-thirds of the members of the Saeima
participate. The amendments shall be passed in three readings by a majority
of not less than two-thirds of the members present.
77. If the Saeima has amended the first,
second, third, fourth, sixth or seventy-seventh Article of the Constitution,
such amendments, in order to come into force as law, shall be submitted to a
78. Electors, in number comprising not less than
one tenth of the electorate, have the right to submit a fully elaborated draft
of an amendment to the Constitution or of a law to the President, who shall
present it to the Saeima. If the Saeima does not adopt it without
change as to its content, it shall then be submitted to national referendum.
79. An amendment to the Constitution submitted
for national referendum shall be deemed adopted if at least half of the electorate
has voted in favour. A draft law submitted for national referendum shall be
deemed adopted if the number of voters is at least half of the number of electors
as participated in the previous Saeima election and if the majority has
voted in favour of the draft law.
80. All citizens of Latvia who have the right to
vote in elections of the Saeima may participate in national referendums.
81. During the time between sessions of the Saeima,
the Cabinet has the right, if there is an urgent need, to issue regulations
that have the force of law. Such regulations may not amend the law regarding
elections of the Saeima, laws governing the court system and court proceedings,
the Budget and rights pertaining to the Budget, as well as laws adopted during
the term of the current Saeima, and they may not pertain to amnesty,
state taxes, customs duties, and loans and they shall cease to be in force unless
submitted to the Saeima not later than three days after the next session
of the Saeima has been convened.
[21 March 1933; 4 December 1997; 15 October 1998]
82. In Latvia, court cases shall be heard by district
(city) courts, regional courts and the Supreme Court, but in the event of war
or a state of emergency, also by military courts. Judges shall be independent
and subject only to the law.
84. Judicial appointments shall be confirmed by
the Saeima and they shall be irrevocable. The Saeima may remove
judges from office against their will only in the cases provided for by law,
based upon a decision of the Judicial Disciplinary Board or a judgment of the
Court in a criminal case. The age of retirement from office for judges may be
determined by law.
85. In Latvia, there shall be a Constitutional
Court, which, within its jurisdiction as provided for by law, shall review cases
concerning the compliance of laws with the Constitution, as well as other matters
regarding which jurisdiction is conferred upon it by law. The Constitutional
Court shall have the right to declare laws or other enactments or parts thereof
invalid. The appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court shall be confirmed
by the Saeima for the term provided for by law, by secret ballot with
a majority of the votes of not less than fifty-one members of the Saeima.
86. Decisions in court proceedings may be made
only by bodies upon whom jurisdiction regarding such has been conferred by law,
and only in accordance with procedures provided for by law. Military courts
shall act on the basis of a specific law.
[5 June 1996; 4 December 1997; 15 October 1998]
The State Audit Office
87. The State Audit Office shall be an independent
88. Auditors General shall be appointed to their
office and confirmed pursuant to the same procedures as judges, but only for
a fixed period of time, during which they may be removed from office only by
a judgment of the Court. The organisation and responsibilities of the State
Audit Office shall be provided for by a specific law.
Fundamental Human Rights
89. The State shall recognise and protect fundamental
human rights in accordance with this Constitution, laws and international agreements
binding upon Latvia.
90. Everyone has the right to know about their
91. All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before
the law and the courts.
Human rights shall be realised without discrimination
of any kind.
92. Everyone has the right to defend their rights
and lawful interests in a fair court. Everyone shall be presumed innocent until
their guilt has been established in accordance with law. Everyone, where their
rights are violated without basis, has a right to commensurate compensation.
Everyone has a right to the assistance of counsel.
93. The right to life of everyone shall be protected
94. Everyone has the right to liberty and security
of person. No one may be deprived of or have their liberty restricted, otherwise
than in accordance with law.
95. The State shall protect human honour and dignity.
Torture or other cruel or degrading treatment of human beings is prohibited.
No one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading punishment.
96. Everyone has the right to inviolability of
their private life, home and correspondence.
97. Everyone residing lawfully in the territory
of Latvia has the right to freely move and to choose their place of residence.
98. Everyone has the right to freely depart from
Latvia. Everyone having a Latvian passport shall be protected by the State when
abroad and has the right to freely return to Latvia. A citizen of Latvia may
not be extradited to a foreign country.
99. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion. The church shall be separate from the State.
100. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression,
which includes the right to freely receive, keep and distribute information
and to express their views. Censorship is prohibited.
101. Every citizen of Latvia has the right, as
provided for by law, to participate in the activities of the State and of local
government, and to hold a position in the civil service. Local governments shall
be elected by Latvian citizens who enjoy full rights of citizenship. The working
language of local governments is the Latvian language
102. Everyone has the right to form and join associations,
political parties and other public organisations.
103. The State shall protect the freedom of previously
announced peaceful meetings, street processions, and pickets.
104. Everyone has the right to address submissions
to State or local government institutions and to receive a materially responsive
reply. Everyone has the right to receive a reply in the Latvian language.
105. Everyone has the right to own property. Property
shall not be used contrary to the interests of the public. Property rights may
be restricted only in accordance with law. Expropriation of property for public
purposes shall be allowed only in exceptional cases on the basis of a specific
law and in return for fair compensation.
106. Everyone has the right to freely choose their
employment and workplace according to their abilities and qualifications. Forced
labour is prohibited. Participation in the relief of disasters and their effects,
and work pursuant to a court order shall not be deemed forced labour.
107. Every employed person has the right to receive,
for work done, commensurate remuneration which shall not be less than the minimum
wage established by the State, and has the right to weekly holidays and a paid
108. Employed persons have the right to a collective
labour agreement, and the right to strike. The State shall protect the freedom
of trade unions.
109. Everyone has the right to social security
in old age, for work disability, for unemployment and in other cases as provided
110. The State shall protect and support marriage,
the family, the rights of parents and rights of the child. The State shall provide
special support to disabled children, children left without parental care or
who have suffered from violence.
111. The State shall protect human health and guarantee
a basic level of medical assistance for everyone.
112. Everyone has the right to education. The State
shall ensure that everyone may acquire primary and secondary education without
charge. Primary education shall be compulsory.
113. The State shall recognise the freedom of scientific
research, artistic and other creative activity, and shall protect copyright
and patent rights.
114. Persons belonging to ethnic minorities have
the right to preserve and develop their language and their ethnic and cultural
115. The State shall protect the right of everyone
to live in a benevolent environment by providing information about environmental
conditions and by promoting the preservation and improvement of the environment.
116. The rights of persons set out in Articles
ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, one hundred, one hundred and two, one
hundred and three, one hundred and six, and one hundred and eight of the Constitution
may be subject to restrictions in circumstances provided for by law in order
to protect the rights of other people, the democratic structure of the State,
and public safety, welfare and morals. On the basis of the conditions set forth
in this Article, restrictions may also be imposed on the expression of religious
[15 October 1998; 30 April 2002]
Adopted by the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia
on 15 February 1922
President of the Constitutional Assembly J. Cakste
Secretary of the Constitutional Assembly R. Ivanovs
Transitional Provisions Regarding
to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia
(regarding amending Law of 30 April 2002)
Amendments to Article 18 of the Constitution of
the Republic of Latvia shall come into force on 5 November 2002.