23/7 Tass 58
RIGA, July 23 (Itar-Tass) — Latvia holds a referendum on the dissolution of the national parliament initiated by its former president Valdis Zatlers. At 07:00 a.m. local time (08:00 a.m. Moscow time) on Saturday, 950 polling stations opened throughout the country. A total of 78 stations more have been organized abroad. The referendum will be over at 23:00 Moscow time.
Under the national laws, if the majority of voters support Zatlers’ initiative, early parliamentary elections are to be held within two months after the dissolution of the current parliament. Such elections are likely to be held in September, the country’s Central Elections Commission said earlier.
Preliminary voting results will be available at 23:30 and by Sunday morning it is expected to process all ballot papers.
As many as 65 observers from Latvia and 16 international observers have been accredited to monitor the voting procedures.
Official results will be announced on July 26.
Latvia’s population is 2.3 million people, of whom only 1.6 million are eligible voters. About 345,000 Russian speakers who have no Latvian passports will not take part in the voting. Since Latvia’s break-up from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Russian speakers have been stripped off most of political rights, including the right to vote in municipal and parliamentary elections, in elections to the European parliament, and to take part in national referendums.
On May 28, the former president initiated this referendum having accused lawmakers of “serving the interests of oligarchs,” and of the “selling out official posts.”
Zatlers was elected President in 2007, and his term in office expired on July 7, 2011. After former banker Andris Berzins won the presidential elections on June 2, he said he would not cancel the initiative of his predecessor.