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Latvia's president seeks constitutional reform at parliament's expense

RIGA - Daily News with wires | 6/21/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers has announced his support of overhauling the presidential position’s powers and election process at the expense of the parliament.

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers has announced his support of overhauling the presidential position’s powers and election process at the expense of the parliament.

In the traditional address to the parliament before the summer recess, Zatlers called for reforming the Latvian constitution to allow the president to dissolve the parliament early without a referendum, the Baltic Reports website reported Friday.

Currently a president’s order to dissolve the parliament must then be approved by a majority in a public referendum before becoming valid.

Zatlers proposed allowing the president to appoint and dismiss the auditor general and central bank president, powers currently relegated to parliament. Zatlers said this would avoid the politicization of appointees, something that has troubled the Latvian executive branch, especially in anti-corruption agencies.

“To ensure a competent and politically-neutral professionals are appointed to positions of responsibility and to avoid the unnecessary politicization of the process, I support the extending the policy of presidential appointments to these independent state officials,” Zatlers said.

Zatlers also announced his support of reforming how the president is elected, advocating for direct popular elections as is the system in Lithuania. Currently in Latvia the parliament elects the president by secret ballot.

It’s unclear whether the parliament will react to the proposals during their break, as most of the parties are focused on the upcoming election and the economy instead of constitutional issues.

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