Latvia 2020-2021: how to redistribute municipalities to the detriment of national minorities

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Photo: LETA Author: Edijs Pālens

As a result of the elections in 2021, LRU councillors will work in the three regions. In Daugavpils, Aleksey VASILIEV was elected from the LRU list, in Jelgava – Andrey PAGOR and in the Olaine region – Andris VURCHS. We congratulate the new councillors on their election, and the residents of these regions with the fact that their interests will now be represented by reliable people!

Demographical background

National minorities are mainly concentrated in the cities and towns and in two regions – Latgale (Eastern Latvia) and the surroundings of the capital city of Riga.[1]

Legal background

Before the reform, there were over 100 municipalities in Latvia, all on the same level. These were 9 “republic-level cities” and 110 other municipalities.

The territorial reform entering force in 2021 (adopted in 2020) does not affect the seven largest cities.

The rest of municipalities, including two former smallest “republic-level cities”, Jēkabpils and Valmiera, undergo mergers. Typically, it means merging a larger town-centered municipality, with a significant share of national minorities, and some smalltown/rural municipalities, overwhelmingly Latvian ethnically (however, in Latgale some of smalltown/rural municipalities are minority-majority).

5 % thresholds apply for local elections.

Representation of minority-oriented parties outside the 7 cities: after 2017 and 2021 elections

2017 elections[2]   2021 elections[3]
Jēkabpils city Harmony – 2 seats from 13 Jēkabpils municipality (enlarged) Harmony – 1 seat from 19
Valmiera city Harmony – 3.2 % Valmiera municipality (enlarged) Harmony 0.9 %, Latvian Russian Union (LRU) 0.5 %[4]
Ogre municipality Harmony – 2 seats from 17; 9.0 % Ogre municipality (enlarged) Harmony 2.7 %, LRU 0.4 %, New Harmony 0.1 %
Krāslava municipality Harmony 2 seats from 15 Krāslava municipality (enlarged) Harmony 2 seats from 15[5]
Ludza municipality Harmony 3 seats from 15 and 18.4 %, Socialist Party 1 seat and 7.3 % Ludza municipality (enlarged) Harmony 2 seats, Socialist Party and LRU 0 seats from 15, all three lists together 18.3 %[6]
Balvi municipality Harmony 2 seats from 15 Balvi municipality (enlarged) Harmony 1 seat from 15[7]
Līvāni municipality Harmony 2 seats from 15.[8] Līvāni municipality (enlarged) Harmony 2 seats from 15
Preiļi municipality Harmony 1 seat from 15 Preiļi municipality (enlarged) Harmony 1 seat from 15
Aizkraukle municipality Harmony 2 seats from 15 and 12.8 %, LRU 1 seat and 6.0 % Aizkraukle municipality (enlarged) LRU 2.3 %, Harmony 1.8 %
Mārupe municipality Harmony 2 seats from 17 and 12.3 % Mārupe municipality (enlarged) Harmony 4.6 %, LRU 0.7 %, Alternative 0.7 %
Garkalne municipality Harmony 3 seats from 15, 16.7 % Ropaži municipality (enlarged – the administrative center moves to Stopiņi. Inčukalns mun. gets divided between the new Ropaži and an other mun.)

 

Harmony 2 seats from 19 and 8.6 %, LRU 1.8 %, For Stability! 0.8 %

Stopiņi municipality Harmony 4 seats from 15, 22.3 %
Ropaži municipality Harmony 0 seats, 3.4 %
Inčukalns municipality Harmony 3 seats from 15, 21.0 %
Daugavpils [rural] municipality Harmony 5 seats, LRU 0 seats from 17 Augšdaugavas municipality (merged) Harmony 2 seats from 15[9]
Ilūkste municipality Harmony 2 seats from 15
  2017 elections   2021 elections

 

Limitations of the comparison: the turnout at the 2021 elections was an all-times low, at 34 %, which might have skewed the results as well. In Latgale region, which includes “new” Ludza, Preiļi, Līvāni, Balvi, Krāslava, Augšdaugavas municipalities, some other lists are multiethnic, as shown in the footnotes.

A. Kuzmins*

* Disclosure – Latvian Russian Union councillor in Riga city

P.S. The undermining of representation raises issues under Article 15 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Additional information, covering time from 1991 till 2017, can be found at http://lhrc.lv/arxiv/Shadow_report_FCNM_LV2017.docx

[1] See, e.g., a map at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Latvia#/media/File:%D0%9B%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%8F.%D1%80%D1%83.png (RU)

[2] http://pv2017.cvk.lv/ElectionResults (LV)

[3] https://pv2021.cvk.lv/pub/en/election-results

[4] To be fair, an Azerbaijani, Mr Vugars Ecmanis from Farmers’ Union of Latvia list was re-elected. P.S. Another councillor not indicating Latvian as native language, Mr Gluhovs from “For Valmiera and Vidzeme”, was not

[5] The winning Farmers’ Union has 1 ethnically Russian and 1 Belarusian councillor there, too. In 2017, it had 1 Polish, 1 Russian and 1 Belarusian councillor

[6] The winning Greens’ and Farmers’ Union has 1 Russian councillor there as well, Mr Agafonov(-s). In 2017, he was elected, from Latgale Party, to the council of Zilupe municipality, one of those merged with Ludza.

[7] The winning Latgale Party has 1 Russian councillor, Ms Duļbinska(-ya), elected there as well, – unlike 2017

[8] In 2017, 1 of councillors of the winning Greens’ and Farmers’ Union, Mr Troškov(-s), hasn’t indicated Latvian as native language. He changed parties and failed to get re-elected in 2021.

[9] The winning Daugavpils Area Party has one Polish and 1 Russian councillor, as it had in 2017

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