Latvia - Government

The 1990 declaration of provisional independence reinstated the 1922 constitution. From 1990 to 1993, Latvia was in a state of transition and authority was held by the Supreme Council. The new Saeima (parliament) consists of a single chamber with 100 deputies. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to hold a seat in parliament. Deputies are elected to a term of four years by citizens over the age of 18.

The executive branch of government is made up of the president, prime minister, and the cabinet. The Saeima elects the president for a four-year term. Executive power lies with the prime minister, who heads the Council of Ministers (cabinet). In June 1999, the Saeima elected Vaira Vike-Freiberga to the presidency.

Only citizens of Latvia at the time of the 1940 Soviet invasion and their descendants were allowed to vote in the 1993 elections. This meant that an estimated 34% of the country's residents (primarily Russians) were ineligible to vote. On 22 July 1994 the Saeima amended a new citizenship law, eliminating the quota system that allowed only 2,000 resident aliens a year to become citizens. The new law accelerates the naturalization process for the several hundred thousand Russian-speakers living in Latvia.

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