1.1 General description basic facts on constitutional system
Satversme is the constitution of the Republic of Latvia. It includes basic constitutional principles - sovereignty, rule of the people, division of state power, law based state and basic human rights. The Constitution states that Latvia is independent democratic republic the territory of which is defined in international agreements. The state power is owned by the nation. Latvian parliamentary regime is strictly formulated as democratic and republican where the main legislative power is owned by Latvian Parliament (Saeima).
The Constitution is characterised by strong parliamentarian power, weak presidential institution, strict order of changes in the Constitution - any changes shall be supported by two thirds of parliamentarians or vote of the nation. The Constitution includes prevention and counteraction principles. It envisages wide opportunities for the nation to participate in legislation and in solution of conflicts between powers. Two institutions have legislative power - nation itself or entirety of citizens and representative institution - the Parliament. The Cabinet of Ministers and the President represent executive power. State administration institutions are subordinated to the Cabinet of Ministers. The Parliament elects the President of the State, expresses the trust to the Cabinet of Minters and controls its activities. Parliamentarians are responsible for activities of the Cabinet of Ministers and for each minister individually. Person invited by the President forms the government. Independent legislative power is fixed in the Constitution as well as independent and collegiate institution of the State Control.
The Constitution's Chapter 8 on human rights defines that the State recognises and protects fundamental human rights in accordance with Constitution, laws and international agreements mandatory to Latvia. The Constitution, Chapter 8 states equality of individuals before the law and the court, rights to freedom, life and immunity of private life. It fixes also the most essential political rights to communication and freedom of expression as well as rights to assemble and freedom of peaceful political activity. Several articles are essential for spatial planning including such legal regulations as "everyone has the right to defend his or her rights and lawful interests in a fair court ... (Article 92); "everyone residing lawfully in the territory of Latvia has the right to freely move and to choose his or her place of residence..." (Article 97); "everyone has the right to freedom of expression ..." (Article 100); "every citizen of Latvia has the right, as provided for by law, to participate in the work of the State and of local government..." (Article 101); "Everyone has the right to address submissions to State or local government institutions and to receive a materially responsive reply..." (Article 104); "everyone has the right to own property. Property shall not be used contrary to the interests of the public. Property rights may be restricted only in accordance with law. Expropriation of property for public purposes shall be allowed only in exceptional cases on the basis of a specific law and in return for fair compensation" (Article 105); and "the State shall protect the right of everyone to live in a benevolent environment by providing information about environmental conditions and by promoting the preservation and improvement of the environment" (Article 115).
Constitutional Court acts in the framework of the Law "On Constitutional Court". It deals with cases on correspondence of laws, signed or contracted international agreements of Latvia, decisions of the Parliament, legal acts of the Cabinet of Ministers, laws and regulations of the President, the Chairman of the Parliament and the Prime Minister as well as those of municipalities and their correspondence to the Constitution. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court deals with issues of mutual hierarchy between laws and regulations. The Constitutional Court is competent to declare laws or other legal acts or their parts as invalid.
Relevant legislative acts and institutions
The Constitution of the Republic of Latvia (adopted by Joint Constitution Setting Meeting of Latvia on 15.02.1922), link to the text in English: www.ttc.lv/index.php?&id=10&tid=61&l=LV&seid=down&itid=13686
Law on Constitutional Court (adopted 05.06.1996), link to the text in English: www.ttc.lv/index.php?&id=10&tid=59&l=LV&seid=down&itid=15821
Constitutional Court www.satv.tiesa.gov.lv