President seeks to dissolve parliament
Seven months after the last general election, in October 2010, President Valdis Zatlers has announced that he proposes to dissolve the 10th parliament or Saeima.
The move has come about as a result of a vote in the Saeima on 26th May when MPs voted against a request from the Prosecutor General to lift the parliamentary immunity of opposition MP and former transport minister Ainars Slesers. The Latvian anti-corruption agency had started an investigation into the business dealings of a number of unnamed officials on 20th May.
The president announced that the blocking of the work of the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) by parliament was a serious conflict between legislators and the judicial authorities.
The move by the president comes under Paragraph 48 of the Latvian Constitution and will lead to a referendum on Saturday 23rd July. The Saeima will be dissolved if fifty percent or more of those voting support the motion. Elections must then be held within two months.
Meanwhile, President Zatler’s term of office runs out on 7th July and today (2nd June 2011) the parliament votes for a new president. There are two candidates, the current president and Andris Berzins a member of the Saeima for the Latvian Farmers Union (ZZS). President Zatlers is an independent who has (had?) the support of the Unity grouping and ‘For a Good Latvia’ grouping.