History of the legislature

The People’s Council

The Republic of Latvia was proclaimed on 18 November 1918. Its first legislative institution — the People’s Council consisting of 40 members — was established on 17 November 1918 as a result of an agreement among 8 of Latvia’s democratic political parties and in cooperation with a representative of the Latgale Land Council. Due to the political situation, elections could not be held at that time.

Mandates in the Council were not granted to individual persons. Each party had a certain number of seats in the Council, and these were filled by members authorized by the party. The members were often replaced. There were 183 seats in the Council, although the exact number of members is not known; historians cite two figures – 245 and 297.

The People’s Council held 57 general meetings. It had 22 standing committees. The Council elaborated a political platform which can be regarded as the first provisional Constitution (Satversme) of the Republic of Latvia, and it adopted several important laws on rural local governments and their election, on Latvia’s monetary system, on educational institutions, on citizenship, and on the election of the Constitutional Assembly.

The People’s Council functioned until 30 April 1920.

Its President was Janis Cakste. He began chairing Council meetings on 13 July 1919.

The Constitutional Assembly

The Constitutional Assembly was Latvia’s first elected legislative body. Elections were held on 17 and 18 April 1920, and the turnout was 84.9 % of eligible voters (677,084 people). Fifty-seven candidate lists were submitted in 5 constituencies, and 16 of the lists won seats in the Assembly. Altogether 150 members, including 5 women, were elected.

The Constitutional Assembly drafted the supreme law of the state — the Constitution (Satversme) — as well as other laws. It adopted a law on agrarian reform, a law on the election of the parliament (Saeima), and other laws. The Constitutional Assembly had 21 standing committees. It held 213 plenary sittings and adopted 205 laws and 291 regulations having the force of law.

The President of the Constitutional Assembly was Janis Cakste. The Assembly functioned until 7 November 1922.

Members of the Constitutional Assembly

The 1st Saeima

The legislative work begun by the Constitutional Assembly was continued by the Saeima.

According to the Constitution, the Saeima was to be elected for a term of three years in general, equal and direct elections, and by secret ballot based on proportional representation. The mandate of the previous Saeima expired only on the day when a newly-elected Saeima convened for its first sitting.

Elections of the 1st Saeima were held on 7 and 8 October 1922; the turnout was 82.2% of eligible voters (800,840 people). Eighty-eight candidate lists were submitted, and 46 lists won seats in the Saeima.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 84 were Latvians; 62 had a higher education, 22 had a secondary education, 7 had graduated from teacher training colleges and 9 had a primary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

The number of parliamentary groups also changed. When the 1st Saeima began its work, there were 20 parliamentary groups and 20 standing committees. It held 214 plenary sittings at which 343 draft laws were debated. Among the most important laws adopted were the Law on the Structure of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Law on Associations, Unions and Political Organisations, and the Law on Meetings.

The first Speaker of the Saeima was Fridrihs Vesmanis. On 20 March 1925, he was succeeded by Dr. Pauls Kalnins.

Members of the 1st Saeima

The 2nd Saeima

Elections of the 2nd Saeima were held on 3 and 4 October 1925. The turnout was 74.9% of eligible voters (838,800 people). Of the 141 candidate lists submitted, 48 won seats in the Saeima.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 84 were Latvians; 55 had a higher education, 30 had a secondary education, and 15 had a primary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

The number of parliamentary groups in the 2nd Saeima also changed. When the 2nd Saeima began its work there were 27 parliamentary groups and 20 standing committees. At 214 plenary sittings, 335 draft laws were debated. The 2nd Saeima focused on social and economic issues.

The Speaker of the 2nd Saeima was Dr. Pauls Kalnins.

Members of the 2nd Saeima

The 3rd Saeima

Elections of the 3rd Saeima were held on 6 and 7 October 1928. The turnout was 79.3% of eligible voters (937,968 people). Of 120 candidate lists, 54 won seats in the Saeima. Beginning with this election, the submitters of each candidate list had to pay a security deposit of LVL 1,000. The money was returned if at least one candidate from the list was elected in at least one of the constituencies.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 80 were Latvians; 54 had a higher education, 28 had a secondary education, 4 had a higher or secondary military education and 14 had a primary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

The number of parliamentary groups also changed. When the 3rd Saeima began its work, there were 28 parliamentary groups. This convocation of the Saeima had 20 standing committees. A total of 223 plenary sittings were held, and 344 draft laws were debated.

The Speaker of the 3rd Saeima was Dr. Pauls Kalnins.

Members of the 3rd Saeima

The 4th Saeima

Elections of the 4th Saeima were held on 3 and 4 October 1931. The turnout was 80% of eligible voters (974,822 people). Of the 103 candidate lists submitted, 57 won seats in the Saeima.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 1 was a woman; 83 were Latvians; 43 had a higher education, 39 had a secondary education, 12 had been educated at folk schools, 3 at military schools, 1 at an agricultural school, 1 at a trade school, and 1 member of parliament was self-educated. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

The number of parliamentary groups also changed. When this convocation of the Saeima began its work, there were 25 parliamentary groups. The 4th Saeima had 18 standing committees. During 185 plenary sittings, 312 draft laws were debated. Dr. Pauls Kalnins was again the Speaker of the Saeima. 

The 4th Saeima was dissolved after the coup of 15 May 1934, and its functions were taken over by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Members of the 4th Saeima

The Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia

Elections of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia were held on 18 March 1990. For the first time since the Soviet occupation, candidates from various political movements were allowed to participate in parliamentary elections. The turnout was 81.25% of eligible voters (1,593,019 people).

Of the 201 elected members of the Supreme Council, 10 were women; 139 were Latvians; 185 had a higher education, 5 had an incomplete higher education, and 11 had a secondary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Supreme Council changed.

There were 16 standing committees in the Supreme Council. The Supreme Council held 389 plenary sittings and adopted 404 laws, including the Constitutional Law on the Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person. The 1937 Civil Law was reinstated, and laws were drafted to initiate the privatisation process.

The Supreme Council specified a transition period for the de facto restoration of statehood. The transition period ended with the convening of the 5th Saeima.

The Chairman of the Supreme Council was Anatolijs Gorbunovs.

Members of Supreme Council

The 5th Saeima

Elections of the 5th Saeima were held on 5 and 6 June 1993. The legal basis for the election was the Law on the Election of the Fifth Saeima adopted on 20 October 1992. This was a slightly amended and modified version of the Saeima Election Law adopted in 1922. The turnout was 89.9% of eligible voters (1,118,316 people); including 18,413 citizens who voted abroad. Twenty-three candidate lists were submitted, and 8 won seats in the Saeima. The others did not pass the 4% threshold. Persons submitting candidate lists had to pay a security deposit equal to 50 minimum monthly salaries which was returned if at least one candidate from the list was elected in at least one of the constituencies.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 15 were women; 88 were Latvians; 91 had a higher education, 4 had an incomplete higher education, and 5 had a secondary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

The 5th Saeima had 15 standing committees, as well as several subcommittees and parliamentary inquiry committees. After the election, the Saeima had 8 parliamentary groups. In the spring of 1994, their number increased by one when the Harmony for Latvia — Rebirth of National Economy parliamentary group split up.

The 5th Saeima held 137 plenary sittings and debated 839 draft laws. The Saeima reinstated the Constitution and the Law on the Structure of the Cabinet of Ministers adopted in 1925; it adopted the Citizenship Law and the Anti-Corruption Law, implemented local government reform, and ratified the agreement on the complete withdrawal of the Russian armed forces from Latvia.

The Speaker of the 5th Saeima was Anatolijs Gorbunovs.

Members of the 5th Saeima

The 6th Saeima

The elections of the 6th Saeima were held on 30 September and 1 October 1995. The turnout was 71.9% of eligible voters (955,392 people), including 12,501 citizens who voted abroad. Nineteen candidate lists were submitted, and 9 won seats in the Saeima. The others did not pass the 5% threshold. Persons submitting candidate lists had to pay a security deposit of LVL 1,000 which was returned if at least one candidate from the list was elected in at least one of the constituencies.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 8 were women; 90 had a higher education, 1 had an incomplete higher education, 6 had a secondary vocational education, and 3 had a general secondary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

There were 16 standing committees in the 6th Saeima, as well as several subcommittees and parliamentary inquiry committees. After the elections, 9 parliamentary groups were formed but their number changed constantly during the Saeima’s term of office.

In December 1995, the Socialist Party – Equal Rights bloc broke up, but in November 1996 it again formed a parliamentary group which functioned until May 1997.

In July 1996, the National Harmony Party parliamentary group broke up, but it began functioning anew in September 1997.

The parliamentary group of the Latvian Unity Party functioned from the election until February 1997.

In July 1996, the members of parliament who had left the For Latvia parliamentary group formed a new parliamentary group, For Nation and Justice, which functioned until February 1997.

In June 1997, the parties For Fatherland and Freedom and the LNNK (Latvian National Independence Movement) merged, and a parliamentary group bearing both names was established. Prior to that, the LNNK had formed a parliamentary group with the Latvian Green Party.

In June 1997, the Latvian Green Party formed a parliamentary group with the Latvian National Reform Party. It functioned until August 1998. The parliamentary group of the people’s union Freedom functioned from September 1997 to January 1998.

On 28 July 1998, the Labour Party, the Christian Democratic Union, and the Latvian Green Party united to form a joint parliamentary group which functioned until the term of office of the 6th Saeima expired.

During the 6th Saeima, the membership of the Democratic Party Saimnieks parliamentary group increased while that of Latvia’s Way and For Latvia parliamentary groups decreased. The number of unaffiliated members of parliament fluctuated, sometimes reaching more than 20 members.

The 6th Saeima held 197 plenary sittings at which 1,335 draft laws were debated. The 6th Saeima approved significant amendments to the Constitution providing that henceforth parliamentary elections would be held on one day only and that beginning with the 7th Saeima the term of office of the Saeima would be 4 years instead of 3. It also added to the Constitution a Chapter on Fundamental Human Rights and adopted the Civil Procedure Law.

The first Speaker of the 6th Saeima was Dr. Ilga Kreituse. On 26 September 1996, she was succeeded by Alfreds Cepanis.

Members of the 6th Saeima

The 7th Saeima

According to the constitutional amendment, for the first time in the history of Latvia the Saeima elections took place on one day only, namely, on 3 October 1998. The turnout was 71.9% of eligible voters (944, 667 people), including 10,080 citizens who voted abroad. Twenty-one candidate lists were submitted, but only 6 lists won seats in the Saeima. The others did not pass the 5% threshold. Persons submitting candidate lists had to pay a security deposit of LVL 1,000 which was returned if at least one candidate from the list was elected in at least one of the constituencies.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 17 were women; 94 were Latvians; 94 members of parliament had a higher education, 4 had a secondary vocational education, and 2 had a secondary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

There were 16 standing committees, 14 subcommittees and 5 parliamentary inquiry committees in the 7th Saeima. After the election of the 7th Saeima, 6 parliamentary groups were formed.

On 5 January 2001, five members of parliament who had left the New Party formed the New parliamentary group, which existed until March 2002.

The parliamentary group of the Union of Latvian Social Democrats was renamed the Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party parliamentary group in May 1999.

In addition, in January 2002, the members of parliament who had left the Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party parliamentary group established the parliamentary group of the Social Democrats Union. In January 2002, the parliamentary group of For Human Rights in a United Latvia was established.

In contrast to the previous Saeima, there were few unaffiliated members of parliament during the 7th Saeima: at the beginning of the Saeima’s term of office there was 1 unaffiliated member of parliament; in January 2002 there were 3; in March 2002 there were 7; and at the end of the Saeima’s term of office there were 8.

During the 7th Saeima 1,442 draft laws were debated, and 917 laws were adopted. The most significant of them were the Law on Amendments to the Constitution, the Law on the State Administration System, the Law on Electronic Documents, the Commercial Law, amendments to the Law on the Administrative Procedure, and amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code.

The Speaker of the 7th Saeima was Janis Straume.   

Members of the 7th Saeima

The 8th Saeima

The elections of the 8th Saeima were held on 5 October 2002. The turnout was 71.51% of eligible voters (997,754 people), including 7,490 citizens who voted abroad. Twenty candidate lists were submitted; however, only 6 parties and associations of political parties passed the 5% threshold and won seats in the Saeima.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 18 were women; there were 79 Latvians, 14 Russians, 1 Pole, 1 Jew, 1 Karelian and 4 members who had not specified their ethnic origin. Ninety-three members of parliament had a higher education, 4 had a secondary vocational education and 3 had a general secondary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

There were 17 standing committees, 13 subcommittees and 1 parliamentary inquiry committee in the 8th Saeima. Six parliamentary groups were formed after the election. During the convocation of the 8th Saeima, the number of members did not change in the People’s Party parliamentary group and the Union of Greens and Farmers parliamentary group. The number of members increased in Latvia’s First Party parliamentary group while the number of members in the New Era parliamentary group slightly decreased.

On 19 February 2003, 17 members of parliament who left For Human Rights in a United Latvia parliamentary group formed the People’s Harmony Party parliamentary group. The number of members in this parliamentary group gradually decreased, and since 27 October 2005 it has been called the Concord Centre parliamentary group.

On 13 June 2003, For Human Rights in a United Latvia parliamentary group ceased to exist; however, it was restored on 29 August with a different composition.

On 12 June 2003, 5 members of parliament formed Latvia’s Socialist Party parliamentary group.

During the 8th Saeima, as during the 7th Saeima, there were few unaffiliated members of parliament. Their number fluctuated from 1 to 6. For a short period – from 1 September 2003 to 9 February 2004 – there were no unaffiliated members of parliament.

During the 8th Saeima, 1,934 draft laws were debated, and 1,272 laws were adopted. The most significant of them were the Law on Associations and Foundations, the Law on Ending the Privatisation of National and Municipal Property and Expiration of Privatisation Vouchers, and the Criminal Procedure Law. In the course of accession to the European Union, certain laws and regulations were harmonised with the legislation of the European Union.

The Speaker of the 8th Saeima was Ingrida Udre.

Members of the 8th Saeima

The 9th Saeima

The election of the 9th Saeima was held on 7 October 2006. The turnout was 60.98% of eligible voters (908,979 people), including 7,580 citizens who voted abroad. Nineteen candidate lists were submitted; however, only 7 parties and associations of political parties passed the 5% threshold and won seats in the Saeima.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 19 were women; there were 78 Latvians, 15 Russians, 1 Jew, 1 Karelian, 1 German and 4 members of parliament who had not specified their ethic origin. Ninety-five members of parliament had a higher education and 5 had a secondary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

There were 17 standing committees, 13 subcommittees, 1 parliamentary inquiry committee and 1 ad hoc committee at the 9th Saeima. Seven parliamentary groups were formed after the election. During the term of office of the 9th Saeima, there were 9 parliamentary groups. During the convocation of the 9th Saeima, the number of members did not change in Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way party parliamentary group. The parliamentary groups of the Greens and Farmers’ Union, the Civic Union, the union of political organisations (parties) Concord Centre and the party For Human Rights in a United Latvia experienced slight fluctuations in their membership. Seven members of parliament left the People’s Party parliamentary group, 4 members left the New Era party parliamentary group, and 2 members left the parliamentary group of For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK. On 25 May 2008 the Civic Union parliamentary group was formed by uniting 6 unaffiliated members of parliament. After the member of parliament Imants Kalniņš joined the Union of Greens and Farmers parliamentary group, on 15 July 2010 All for Latvia and For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK parliamentary group was formed, which included 4 members from For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK parliamentary group and the unaffiliated member of parliament Visvaldis Lācis, who in the meantime had joined the All for Latvia party.

On 9 August 2010, People’s Party parliamentary group and Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way party parliamentary group formed the political bloc For a Good Latvia.

At the beginning of 2008, the number of unaffiliated members of parliament increased to 10. At the end of the term of office of the 9th Saeima it dropped to 6 members of parliament. One member of the 9th Saeima was expelled in accordance with paragraph 1 of Article 18 of the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima.

 The 9th Saeima held 217 plenary sittings. Altogether 1,993 draft laws were submitted, and 1,458 laws were adopted. The most significant ones included amendments to the Constitution which repealed Article 81 and gave voters the right to dissolve the Saeima, as well as amendments to the Saeima Election Law, the Criminal Procedure Law and the Labour Law. Other significant laws were the new Insolvency Law, the Law on Electronic Mass Media and the Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas. Adoption of amendments to several laws on security institutions and their subsequent repeal, as well as amendments to the Law on State Pensions, created a stir among society.

The 9th Saeima ratified several international treaties, the most significant among them being the Latvia–Russia Border Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon.

The first Speaker of the 9th Saeima was Indulis Emsis. Gundars Daudze replaced him on 24 September 2007.

Members of the 9th Saeima

The 10th Saeima

The election of the 10th Saeima was held on 2 October 2010. The turnout was 63.12% of eligible voters (967,162 people), including 13,012 citizens who voted abroad. Thirteen candidate lists were submitted; however, only 5 parties and alliances of political parties passed the 5% threshold and won seats in the Saeima.

Of the 100 elected members of parliament, 19 were women; there were 76 Latvians, 13 Russians, 1 Karelian, 1 German and 9 members of parliament who had not specified their ethic origin. Ninety-three members of parliament had a higher education and 7 had a secondary education. The statistical data changed as the composition of the Saeima changed.

There were 16 standing committees, 12 subcommittees and 1 parliamentary inquiry committee at the 10th Saeima. Five parliamentary groups were formed after the election. MP Visvaldis Lācis left the All for Latvia and For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK parliamentary group on 8 March 2011 and became an unaffiliated member of parliament.

On 28 May 2011, Valdis Zatlers, President of Latvia, passed Order No. 2 in accordance with Article 48 of the Constitution, thus initiating dissolution of the Saeima for the first time in the history of the Republic of Latvia. The referendum on the dissolution of the 10th Saeima was held on 23 July 2011. The turnout was 44.73% of eligible voters (689,988 people), including 7,554 citizens who voted abroad. More than half of the voters (94.3%) supported the dissolution of the parliament; thus the 10th Saeima was deemed dissolved in accordance with Article 48 of the Constitution, and a new election was called. The 10th Saeima continued to work until the new Saeima convened. During this period, Andris Bērziņš, President of Latvia, convened the plenary sittings of the Saeima and set their agendas.

The 10th Saeima held 58 plenary sittings. Altogether 514 draft laws were submitted, and 310 laws were adopted. The most significant ones included the Law on the State Budget for 2011 and amendments to the Law on Institutions of Higher Education, the

Law on Forests, the Criminal Law, the Commercial Law, the Law on Judicial Power, the Law on Financing of Political Organisations (Parties) and the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima, as well as amendments to several laws that envisaged including MPs, judges and prosecutors in the uniform salary system.

The Speaker of the 10th Saeima was Solvita Āboltiņa.

Members of the 10th Saeima

The 11th Saeima

The election of the 11th Saeima was held on 17 September 2011 because the 10th Saeima was dissolved after the referendum of 23 July 2011. The turnout of the election was 917,713 persons (59.45% of eligible voters), including 14,210 voters who voted abroad. Altogether, there were 13 candidate lists registered for the elections, but only 5 political parties and alliances passed the 5% threshold.

Of the 100 MPs, 21 were women. Ethnic composition of the MPs was as follows: 67 Latvians, 13 Russians, 1 Karelian, 1 German, 1 Liv, 1 Lithuanian and 16 MPs who did not indicate their ethnic origin. Ninety-one MPs had a university degree, and 9 had a secondary education. (The statistics on MPs reflect only the initial outcome of the election, notwithstanding later changes in the composition of the parliament)

There were 16 standing committees 16 subcommittees and 2 parliamentary inquiry committees in the 11th Saeima.

After the election, 5 parliamentary groups were formed. Only the composition of the Union of Greens and Farmers parliamentary group remained unchanged during the 11th Saeima. Three MPs left the Concord Centre and the Unity parliamentary groups, 2 MPs left the Reform Party parliamentary group and 1 MP left the National Alliance of All for Latvia! and For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK. Before the first plenary sitting, 6 MPs from Zatlers’ Reform Party announced their withdrawal from the party and formed a group of unaffiliated MPs. Altogether, there were 15 unaffiliated MPs during the 11th Saeima.

According to the Constitution, the Saeima is elected for a period of 4 years; however, because the elections were extraordinary as a result of the dissolution of the 10th Saeima, the tenure of the 11th Saeima was only 3 years.

The 11th Saeima held 151 plenary sittings; it considered 1,251 draft laws and adopted 910 laws. The most notable legislative accomplishments include adoption of the Law on Declaring Assets and Unreported Income of Natural Persons, the Law on Financing of the National Defence, the Law on the Procedure for Introducing the Euro, amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima, the Citizenship Law, the Criminal Law, the Insolvency Law and the Law on Privatisation of Land in Rural Areas.  Furthermore, the 11th Saeima amended the Constitution by introducing an open ballot procedure in the election of Supreme Court judges, as well as by supplementing it with a preamble which defines the objectives of the State of Latvia, the main turning points in its history, as well as the foundations of the state and society.

The Speaker of the 11th Saeima was Solvita Āboltiņa

Members of the 11th Saeima

Otrdien, 26.septembrī
08:30  Juridiskās komisijas Krimināltiesību politikas apakškomisijas sēde
10:00  Juridiskās komisijas sēde
10:00  Cilvēktiesību un sabiedrisko lietu komisijas sēde
10:00  Izglītības, kultūras un zinātnes komisijas sēde
10:00  Aizsardzības, iekšlietu un korupcijas novēršanas komisijas un Nacionālās drošības komisijas kopsēde
10:00  Valsts pārvaldes un pašvaldības komisijas sēde
10:00  Sociālo un darba lietu komisijas sēde
10:00  Nacionālās drošības komisijas un Aizsardzības, iekšlietu un korupcijas novēršanas komisijas kopsēde
11:40  Tautsaimniecības, agrārās, vides un reģionālās politikas komisijas Vides un klimata politikas apakškomisijas sēde
12:00  Juridiskās komisijas Tiesu politikas apakškomisijas sēde
12:00  Publisko izdevumu un revīzijas komisijas sēde
13:00  Sociālo un darba lietu komisijas Sabiedrības veselības apakškomisijas sēde
13:30  Aizsardzības, iekšlietu un korupcijas novēršanas komisijas Korupcijas novēršanas apakškomisijas sēde
14:00  Sociālo un darba lietu komisijas Nodarbinātības apakškomisijas sēde
15:00  Budžeta un finanšu (nodokļu) komisijas sēde