“This is not the last coronavirus. There will definitely be others. ” Conversation with Kaspars Tārs, a researcher at the Biomedical Research and Study Center (Latvijas Avīze, 3.09.2020.)
Professor Kaspars Tārs, a leading researcher at the Latvian Center for Biomedical Research and Studies, participates in the national research program on coronavirus and has thoroughly delved into the development of this virus as soon as it appeared.
Latvia social briefing: Improvements in public health sector in Latvia
Improvements in public health sector in Latvia
Original publication available at the China-CEE institute website: https://china-cee.eu/2020/10/15/latvia-social-briefing-improvements-in-public-health-sector-in-latvia/
During August and September 2020 more attention had been paid to the issues of public health sector namely focusing on the growing and alarming alcoholic beverage consumption and developing the new remuneration model for medical personnel. Addressing these issues is really crucial as both of these factors play an important role in the welfare of the Latvian society and therefore have a crucial influence on other topics such – general public health, quality of medical services and others.
Latvia’s action plan for reducing the consumption of alcoholic beverages and restricting alcoholism
In recent years, alcoholic beverage consumption has left a negative influence on the public health sector. The average alcoholic beverage consumption of the citizens of Latvia is higher that the European Union average and in fact is one of the highest in the European Union.  Besides the data from the Disease Prevention and Control Center of Latvia has outlined an unpleasant tendency – in the last 10 years the alcoholic consumption on average in Latvia has increased by more than half – 55%. Because of the rapid growth of alcoholic beverage consumption, the Ministry of Health launched an action plan to limit and decrease the growing tendency.
In order to reduce the prevalence of alcohol consumption and the damage caused to public health, new restrictions on the availability and advertising of alcohol are planned in the coming years, while expanding alcohol addiction treatment and rehabilitation services. Alcohol consumption in Latvia is growing every year and exceeds the European average, so it is important to limit its availability and explain to the public the negative effects of alcohol on health. The new action will namely focus on the following topics:
Limiting advertising of alcoholic beverage prices and discounts in the media and on the Internet;
More information on the labels of alcoholic beverages;
Increased police activity on the roads to decrease the risk of “drunk driving”;
Educating the society on the noxiousness of alcoholic beverage consumption;
To improve the knowledge of doctors in work with alcohol addicted patients;
Expanded opportunities for adolescents to receive treatment for alcohol addiction;
Reduce the cost of treatment for drug and alcohol addicts.
Wider treatment options
To help people who are addicted to alcohol or already have serious health problems, the Ministry of Health will expand its outpatient and inpatient treatment options in the coming years. It is planned to introduce a new state-paid group psychotherapy program based on the principles of 12-step therapy. The plan is also to set up a specialized pediatric drug department for adolescents who are suffering from various drug or alcoholic addictions. At the same time, it is planned to release narcotic patients with certain diagnoses from patients’ co-payments when receiving narcological services, as well as the possibility to pay for the necessary medicines from the state budget will be assessed. Additionally, it is planned to educate doctors on working with alcohol-addicted patients, the detection of alcohol usage problems.
Alcoholic beverage product promotions will only be advertised in the store
The second line of action of the plan is to limit the advertising of alcoholic beverages. Therefore, in order to reduce alcohol consumption in society, especially among young people, the Ministry of Health plans to ban the advertising of prices and discounts for beer and wine on television and radio, as well as the advertising of alcoholic beverages in the printed media, cinemas and the Internet. This means that advertising for prices and discounts for alcoholic beverages will be available only at points of sale where alcoholic beverages are sold. It is also planned to prohibit such sales promotion offers, which provide for the purchase of another alcoholic beverage, product or service free of charge or at a discount when purchasing an alcoholic beverage, for example, it will not be possible to make an offer “buy one get cheaper”, therefore reducing the promotion of alcohol consumption.
At the same time, it is important to explain to the public, especially young people, pregnant women and parents-to-be, the harmful effects of alcoholic beverages on health, which the Ministry of Health intends to continue to do. In addition to educational campaigns, it is planned that the labeling of alcoholic beverages will have to include information encouraging certain groups of the population not to drink alcohol, such as pregnant women and drivers. Information on the ingredients and nutritional value of the drink will also have to appear on the label. In turn, by conducting new studies, it is planned to obtain more complete data on alcohol consumption in the country and its consequences.
Reduce road traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers
Currently, the alcohol level in blood for drivers specified in Latvian legislation is – 0.2 promiles for drivers with less than two years of experience, and 0.5 promiles for others. In order to reduce road traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers, it is planned to evaluate, together with other ministries, the possibility of reducing the established blood alcohol level for all drivers to 0.2 promiles. This level is also set in Estonia, Poland and Sweden, while in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia blood alcohol levels are not acceptable, even at low doses. It is also planned to review the alcohol sales hours of alcoholic beverages, taking into account the experience of other countries.
A new remuneration model for medical staff has been developed
The issue of low medical labor income has always been one of Latvia’s main challenges in social sector. The labor income inequality between Latvia and other European countries is drastic – Latvia’s medical personnel receives one of the lowest salaries in the European countries and in some cases the income can differ from even 2 up to 6 times.  This has served for a reason of mass labor emigration therefore within the years the amount of medical personnel has shrunk thus putting in danger the health system of Latvia. Within the last ten years the overall medical personnel resources have decreased by around 30%. It is seen that the tendency will continue if the working conditions will not be improved. Furthermore, in the recent years the discussion revolving the remuneration of medical staff has emerged and the representatives of medical workers have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with remuneration models by organizing marches, protests, etc. Because of that the Ministry of Health has developed a new remuneration model for medical staff with aim to come closer to the European Union average level of medical staff income and improve the quality of life for medical workers in Latvia.
Analyzing the problems of existing remuneration system, a solution was found so that a more efficient and transparent salary system would be implemented namely focusing on the aim that everyone could trace the amount of work, knowledge, skills and additional responsibilities the medical practitioner needs to correspond to receive a certain amount of income . According to the developed 7-year development plan, the increase of salaries for medical personnel is planned to be gradual, ensuring remuneration corresponding to the doctor’s education, skills and economic level.
In 2019 the average salary for a doctor was 2003 euros before taxes. With the new remuneration model to improve the wealth of medical personnel it is planned that by 2027 the average salary would reach 3833 euros before taxes. It is planned that the target salary will be achieved over a period of 7 years, ensuring an annual increase in remuneration by that having an average annual salary increase of 11.5%. Additionally, an annual 12% increase in salaries is planned for medical and patient care persons, such as nurses, physician assistants, etc. If in 2019 the average salary for patient care persons was 1150 euros, then in 2027 the target salary is set to be 2259 euros basing on the current forecasts of economic development, and taking into account the projected changes in the average wage in the economy and inflation. To continue, medical and patient care support persons, such as nursing assistants, are expected to receive a salary increase by 5% per year, reaching the target salary of EUR 1,096 in 2027 (in 2019, the average salary for these persons was EUR 766).
The increasing alcoholic beverage consumption within the Latvian society served as a basis for Latvia’s action plan for reducing the intake of alcoholic beverages and restricting alcoholism. The main direction of the action plan will be limitations on advertising alcohol, educating society and expanded treatment opportunities for persons suffering from alcohol addiction. Additionally, to improve medical sector the Ministry of Health has developed a new remuneration model for medical personnel to increase the welfare and living conditions of doctors, nurses, and other medical workers. It is planned that within the year medical personnel will experience a significant increase in salaries thus reaching closer to the European Union’s average levels of medical personnel income.
While the international system continues to work on mitigating the consequences of the Covid-19, the recent Presidential election in Belarus has now become the most important and discussed issue in Europe. The official preliminary results confirmed that Alexander Lukashenko won the election, however, the outcome has been widely disputed regarding opposition accusations of vote-rigging. As the situation has escalated in violations and protests in the whole country, Latvia together with other EU Member States has expressed the solidarity and the necessity to hold a new election. Latvia as a neighbouring country of Belarus, fully supports the deep desire of Belarusian people to live in an independent, free and democratic Belarus governed by the rule of law. Following the situation in the neighbouring country, Latvia has expressed its support and solidarity in various ways.
Presidential elections in Belarus – Latvia’s statement
The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that the presidential elections in Belarus on 9 August have not been held in conformity with the standards of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected to a sixth term in office, with about 80% of all votes in his favour according to official results, having won every presidential election since 1994. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya declared herself the winner of the elections and called on Lukashenko to start negotiations, meanwhile, her campaign team stated that they were ready to hold “long-term protests” against the official results.  Latvia calls on the Belarusian Government and law enforcement authorities to respect civil liberties of Belarusian people and their rights to freely express their political opinion. The use of force against peaceful protesters is unacceptable. Furthermore, Latvia calls for an immediate release of the detained participants of protests and regrets that international observers from the OSCE and the Council of Europe have not been able to participate in monitoring of the elections. The work of the mass media in covering the election process has also been restricted. Latvian representatives have also emphasized that it is deplorable that several presidential candidates had been denied the possibility of registering their candidacy for the election. A positive development of relations between the EU and Belarus is only possible through observing fundamental democratic rights and freedoms. Latvia, being a neighbour to Belarus, is interested in such development.
The president of Latvia discusses the issue of Belarus with the Presidents of neighbouring countries
President of Latvia Egils Levits, took part in the video call together with Presidents of Lithuania, Estonia and Poland. All the presidents came to a joint agreement that elections are needed These elections should respect the basic principles of democratic elections and ensure the monitoring of international observers, however, none of these aspects were perceived.  The presidents also agreed that a European Council meeting should be convened as soon as possible to decide on sanctions against Belarusian officials who repressed members of the public or participated in the change of election results. All the Presidents emphasized the important role of the UN Security Council and other international organizations in this situation. It is important step that all these countries show a common position towards this issue.
Latvia’s ambassador to Belarus: situation is very tense
Latvia’s ambassador to the country Einars Semanis says that the situation in Belarus is very tense and stressed that the wide protests, especially among young people, broke out after presidential elections. Semanis believes that Latvia’s government and other EU member states have taken an active and responsible stance.  Preparations are being made for the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, where the situation in Belarus will be one of the topics discussed. Ambassador emphasized that prior to presidential elections, Latvia and Belarus maintained an active dialogue, also – it was planned that President of Latvia and Lukashenko meets in the end of August, however, due to the current events, it is not clear whether the scheduled meeting will happen or not. Semanis noted that Latvia is worried as the country wants Belarus to be independent, sovereign, successful and democratic. Furthermore, it is clear that the situation can escalated in different ways, and for Latvia – it is important to stay focused on the ongoing actions. Analysing the position from the ambassador’s view, it is clear, that the tension in Belarus can escalate in different ways, however, for Latvia, it is vital to maintain politically diplomatic position.
Latvia will allocate financial support to Belarusian civil society
According to Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior, Latvia is prepared to accept political asylum seekers.  However, currently a large flow of refugees is not predicted and Latvia has not received requests for political asylum from Belarusian citizens. All the measures could change depending on the development of the situation, therefore, Latvia is following the situation very closely. Latvian Government has also agreed to strengthen Belarusian civil society by allocating €150,000. Commenting on the allocation of money, Latvian representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will meet with non-governmental organizations and will discuss the strands of possible projects related to the funding. It is said that one of the directions is the provision of legal aid to those in administrative or criminal proceedings, as well as to support the media. The support and solidarity towards Belarus prove that this is an important foreign policy issue for Latvia.
In solidarity with efforts of the Belarusian people fighting for freedom and democracy, Latvians as well as residents of Latvia are invited to the historic Baltic Way – Freedom for Belarus, which took place on 23rd of August.
Latvian Parliament adopts a statement on the presidential election in Belarus
The Parliament of Latvia adopted a Statement on the presidential election in Belarus, urging to hold a new presidential election in line with internationally recognised standards, while providing the opposition with equal access to all state-controlled mass media and allowing the opposition to participate in the election on equal footing. In the Statement, the Parliament expresses concern about the repressions and violence against representatives of civil society and independent mass media before, during, and after the presidential election in Belarus. Moreover, the Statement underlines that the right to participate in free elections is a fundamental value of democracy, that the freedom of speech and assembly is a basic human right, and also that current actions of the Belarusian authorities violate internationally recognised human rights norms and principles of democracy. According to the Statement of Latvian Parliament, social dialogue and reforms will improve the development of Belarus by promoting good neighbourly relations in our region and re-establishing successful relations with the European Union. In addition, the Latvian Parliament calls on the government of Latvia to support the introduction of EU sanctions against the Belarusian officials responsible for the violations of human rights and tampering with election results. The Statement also urges the government of Latvia and institutions of the European Union to provide support to the Belarusian society, including financial support aimed at the development of Belarusian civil society and independent mass media.
Covid-19 crisis remains as one of the top priorities and challenges for Latvia. However, the presidential elections in Belarus have significantly exacerbated the situation not only in the whole country but has also raised concerns at the international level. Latvia, together with other EU Member States has expressed its solidarity and fully supports the deep desire of Belarusian people to live in an independent, free and democratic Belarus. Latvia calls on the Belarusian Government and law enforcement authorities to respect civil liberties of Belarusian people and their rights to freely express their political opinion. Furthermore, Latvia agrees that that a positive development of relations between the EU and Belarus is only possible through observing fundamental democratic rights and freedoms. The support and solidarity towards Belarus prove that this is an important foreign policy issue for Latvia. Latvian Parliament has also made the Statement and calls on the government of Latvia to support the introduction of EU sanctions against the Belarusian officials responsible for the violations of human rights and tampering with election results.
The aim of the Science and Technology Innovation Mechanism in Latvia is to provide a knowledge base for the transformation of the national economy to higher added value, which was reflected in the Guidelines for Science, Technology Development and Innovation (hereinafter – STI) for 2014-2020.
In the period of 2014-2020, the development of the STI policy was closely related to the development of the National Industrial Policy in relation to the establishment of the national innovation system for the structural transformation of the Latvian economy into higher added value. Furthermore, the tasks were to concentrate resources in the strongest scientific institutions and to align research with the priorities of Latvia’s smart specialization. During this period, the development of universities as centres of knowledge, technological development and innovation was started by integrating scientific institutes into universities and setting innovation-related goals. In the field of science policy management, the evaluation of research project applications in accordance with the standards of the European Union was introduced, and the basic principles of funding and strategic management of scientific institutions were based on performance.
Within the framework of the Latvian National Industrial Policy, innovation and increase of its capacity is one of the main pillars to improve the competitiveness of Latvia’s industrial sectors and increase productivity and export volumes. The guidelines set out four equally important elements for the development of the Latvian innovation system – knowledge capacity, innovation supply, innovation demand, transfer system.
Currently, the work of institutions on the new document – the draft guidelines for the development of science and technology for 2021-2027 is underway. The document defines Latvian research and innovation as an integral part of the European and world common research area, therefore its development must be directed considering both national development priorities and international processes and global challenges. Comparing to the previous programming period, the new document focuses more on promoting research excellence and increasing the social and economic value of research. The low level of R&D investment remains a challenge to ensure the long-term development of excellent research and innovation. Both an increase in state budget funding for research and the amount of investment in the business sector would be needed.
The strategic overarching goal of the STI policy is to promote the development of a smart, technologically developed and innovative society in Latvia, three goals have been set to achieve it:
1) to develop research excellence and international cooperation;
2) increase innovation capacity and the social and economic value of knowledge and research;
3) to improve the efficiency of the management of the R&D system.
In order to develop research excellence and international cooperation and for Latvia to fully integrate into the European and world research area, it is necessary to create an environment that stimulates the development of talents and supports the formation of purposeful and motivated research human capital in the long run. Achieving the goal requires stable and sustainable scientific funding, and competent academic staff with extensive networks.
Public funding for science in Latvia is still insufficient. Investment in science still does not exceed 50-million-euro threshold. The funding of the science base is unchanged from 2017 to 2022 – slightly over 27 million euro. Funding for public research programs is declining sharply, and the budget plans to halve it (see Table 1).
Table 1. State funding in the budget program “Science” of the Ministry of Education and Science”
Investment in science
47 917 797
51 046 323
49 636 054
49 947 565
49 703 576
50 937 391
Provision of scientific activity
4 912 518
12 296 785
12 511 033
13 120 468
14 620 468
16 120 468
Science base funding
27 187 532
29 484 155
27 866 590
27 786 688
27 636 444
27 636 444
National research programs
8 880 940
3 151 396
3 745 778
4 368 041
2 874 010
2 874 010
Ensuring the operation of the Latvian Science Council
Participation in EU research and technological development programs
5 334 897
4 708 556
4 208 971
3 368 686
3 267 483
3 001 298
The scientific excellence of the Latvian R&D system is insufficient for rapid smart growth, and this is directly related to low R&D investment, which in the 2014–2020 programming period ranged from 0.44 to 0.69% of GDP with a low share of private investment (National target for 2020 – 1.5% of GDP).
At present, the number of people employed in research in Latvia is still critically low (both in terms of the total number and the share in the total structure of the country’s workforce), reaching only ~ 50% of the EU average. The share of innovative small and medium-sized enterprises in Latvia is one of the lowest in the EU – 30.3% (EU average 49.1%). The structure of Latvian industry is mainly characterized by low-tech companies. Latvian companies have insufficiently developed intersectoral and intersectoral co-operation, especially co-operation with research institutions in Latvia and abroad, as well as a weak capacity for commercialization of research results. Knowledge-intensive services account for almost 50% of total service exports. The share of medium and high technology products in total exports is 34.7% (EU average – 56.7%).
R&D&I development and investment, as well as the creation of new businesses, are hampered by existing market failures in the availability of finance for economic operators at all stages of development.
As academic and research staff form intellectual capital to develop the capacity of all sectors of the Latvian economy, Latvia is implementing measures that provide high-quality and internationally competitive academic and research career development opportunities, stimulate and provide opportunities for the involvement of bachelor’s and master’s students, doctoral students and young researchers in research work in scientific institutions, companies, public administration and public institutions, public organizations and promote mobility for the circulation of knowledge.
In order to strengthen scientific excellence and international cooperation, it is necessary to develop appropriate research, including digital infrastructure that promotes the quality of higher education and research. In order to improve international competitiveness and recognition, the involvement of Latvian researchers in strategically important cooperation networks and research consortia with other European and world countries should be promoted, including by using the opportunities provided by cooperation partners and the Latvian diaspora worldwide.
Excellence-oriented research infrastructure, funding and competent academic staff are prerequisites for the development of excellent and internationally competitive research, the creation and transfer of knowledge, as well as the provision of high-quality, research-based higher education and the training of highly qualified professionals.
Latvia still needs to develop digital competences and skills, as it limits the potential for innovation in companies, as well as hinders participation in lifelong learning and the participation of the unemployed in active employment measures. Latvians lack digital skills at all levels and the share of ICT specialists in the workforce is low. Only 43% of the Latvian population aged 16-74 have basic digital skills (58% in the EU as a whole), and ICT professionals make up a small part of the workforce (1.7% compared to 3.9% in the EU, while ICT professionals as a percentage of employed women) is only 0.5% compared to 1.4% in the EU).
Therefore, the ability to add value from knowledge is directly linked to the competences and capacity of those working in research, the demand of the private and public sectors for research and the amount of funding allocated to research and innovation. In order to reap the long-term return on investment in research and technological development, targeted measures are needed to develop public and private sector research and innovation capacity, as well as cooperation, ensuring both the development of basic science and the digital transformation of R&D systems and open science culture. Furthermore, the transfer between research and the business environment, the public sector and society at large, at national, regional and international levels.
The development and availability of an open, secure and interoperable public data infrastructure for research and innovation, as well as the transformation of traditional economic sectors in the regions towards greater resource efficiency and productivity, the creation of higher value-added products and services, are also essential for an efficient knowledge and technology transfer system. As well as, technologically intensive, internationally competitive, incl. niche markets, the development of innovation. The value of science as a socially and economically important field of intellectual activity lies in the direct social, economic and measurable benefits of research, as well as the diverse knowledge and understanding of wider interconnections and processes. In order to increase the value of knowledge and research in society, it is essential to create public awareness of the research and knowledge creation process, as well as to provide wider opportunities for public involvement in scientific research activities, creation and use of research data, incl. within the framework of amateur science initiatives.
Government of Latvia continues to work on mitigating the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis and has reduced certain restrictions. It shows that Latvia has been relatively successful in terms of dealing with Covid-19 crisis. However, the central political event has definitely been the extraordinary elections of the Riga City Council, which, unfortunately, had a record low public activity since 1997. The results of the Riga City Council show that the elections were convincingly won by “Development / For” / “Progressive”, and 7 out of 15 lists entered the City Council. Furthermore, in order to increase Latvia’s defence capacities, adaption of the new National Civil Defence Plan has been an important step towards strengthening civil protection.
Cabinet of Ministers: the involvement of every member of society is important in limiting the spread of COVID-19
The Cabinet of Ministers, based on the recommendations of epidemiologists, decided to slightly reduce certain Covid-19 restrictions, considering that the increase in the number of cases in Latvia is significantly smaller than in other European Union member states. As the incidence of COVID-19 increases, Estonia and Lithuania have raised the threshold for the incidence rate to which travellers do not have to comply with self-isolation – from 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to 25. Health Minister of Latvia previously rejected the idea of such a step in Latvia, and still maintains this view. At the same time, there will be close monitoring so that a decision can be taken quickly on the need to return to stricter restrictions if the situation gets worse. From 17 August, up to 1000 persons are allowed to gather indoors, thus replacing the current restriction of 500 persons.
The limit on the number of visitors will no longer depend on the size of the premises. Event organizers and service providers will be required to develop a Covid-19 containment plan – this applies to both indoor and outdoor events. The government has further supplemented the regulations, stipulating that educational institutions will be allowed to hire a registered medical practitioner for identifying any infection cases and for promptly preventing further spread of the infection in the educational institutions. The risk of infection abroad is significantly higher than in Latvia. In Europe, the incidence of Covid-19 has increased by about 19% in recent weeks, while in Latvia at least three in five cases is due to being abroad.
Drones will be used to monitor the borders among the Baltic States
The Cabinet of Ministers approved amendments to the “Regulations on Technical Means Necessary for Border Inspection and Border Surveillance”, which means that State Border Guard officials will be able to use unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in carrying out border surveillance in the future. Currently, border guards have used helicopters as the only type of aircraft, which serves as an effective tool to prevent illegal migration, illegal movement of excisable goods and other threats to the security of the state border. However, there are some disadvantages – the relatively high cost of operating helicopters, the dependence on meteorological conditions and the limited flight times, which can be avoided by the use of drones in border surveillance.
The Cabinet of Ministers adopted the new National Civil Defence Plan
The Cabinet of Ministers reviewed the state civil protection plan prepared by the Ministry of the Interior, which was developed by the State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia (SFRS) in co-operation with other institutions. The National Civil Protection Plan is a planning document that is prepared considering the risk assessment carried out by the ministries, institutions and municipalities.  Furthermore, the aim of the plan is to continue working on practical solutions to streamline civil protection and strengthen the State Fire and Rescue Service. The Latvian Minister of Interior has emphasized that the security and well-being of the society is a priority in the adaption of the next budget. The main task of this system is to ensure the safety of people, the environment and property by preventing potential threats and aiding victims in case of any kind of.
Extraordinary Elections to the Riga City Council – record low voter turnout
On August 29, the extraordinary elections of Riga City Council took place in Riga, where 15 political forces took part. In the three previous voting days and election day, a total of 171,591 voters or 40.6% of the eligible voters, participated in the election. This is the lowest voter turnout in the municipal elections in Riga since 1997. Comparing the turnout in the three municipal elections, this time more voters participated in the previous poll. However, according to the President of Latvia, this time the people who would have been hooked by loud slogans and populist promises skipped elections, adding that only the ‘’motivated voters’’ decided to participate, which is reflected in results.  According to provisional results, victory was held by the joint list of Development/For! and Progressive party, which together received 18 out of 60 seats in Riga City Council. Harmony is second with 12 seats, followed by New Unity with 10 seats. Seven deputies from the National Alliance and Latvian Association of Regions, as well as four deputies each from Latvian Russians Union and the New Conservative Party were elected.
Furthermore, The President of Latvia has said that the results are solid and satisfactory, however, parties should work on motivating the society to participate in elections. Covid-19 may be one of the reasons why the activity was so low, however, there definitely are other aspects that parties should analyse regarding the voting activity in the elections. In order to achieve efficient and successful work of Riga City Council, deputies should demonstrate self-discipline and switch ‘’from competition model to cooperation regime’’.  The president believes the new team in Riga City Council and potential coalition politicians have a vision for Riga’s development, which is why he puts a great deal of faith in them.
The new mayor of Riga
After the elections, the political forces of the newly elected Riga City Council have started negotiations on the formation of a coalition. “New Unity’’ and the New Conservative Party have expressed support for Martins Stakis, the leader of the winning list “Development” “/ For!” – “Progressive” (AP / P), to the position of the Mayor of Riga. In the election, Stakis received the most pros – 24,661, becoming a clear candidate for the Mayor position. The new Mayor has offered the partners of the potential coalition to divide the positions of the heads of the council committees according to the principle of proportionality – larger factions would have more positions.  Furthermore, no objections have been raised from potential partners to his candidacy.
Latvia continues to focus on the Covid-19 crisis, developing new guidelines in a number of areas and monitoring the current situation. September has been an important month for the Government of Latvia to reduce and change a number of restrictions. Although the number of Covid-19 cases has increased in recent days, Latvia continues to show relatively successful results comparing to other countries. Cabinet of Ministers have approved that from now, drones will be used to monitor the borders among the Baltic States. An important step in Latvia’s defence has been the adoption of the new National Civil Defence Plan by The Cabinet of Ministers, which will streamline civil protection and strengthen the State Fire and Rescue Service
Analysing the results of the Extraordinary elections of the Riga City Council, it is clear that voting activity was low comparing to previous elections. Turnout was the lowest recorded since 1997 at just 40%, with perhaps coronavirus fears and bad weather contributing to people’s reluctance to go to the polls. The leading party Development/For!/Progressives leader Martins Stakis has entered into coalition negotiations with representatives of New Unity, the National Alliance and the Latvian Association of Regions, as well as the New Conservative Party, and became the new Mayor of Riga. Despite the fact that voting activity was low, there is a generational change in Riga City Council.
 Mk.gov.lv, Cabinet of Ministers: the involvement of every member of society is of great importance in limiting the spread of COVID-19https://www.mk.gov.lv/lv/aktualitates/ministru-kabinets-ir-svariga-katra-sabiedribas-locekla-iesaiste-covid-19-izplatibas
 The Cabinet of Ministers adopted the new National Civil Defense Plan https://mk.gov.lv/lv/aktualitates/ministru-kabinets-pienem-jauno-valsts-civilas-aizsardzibas-planu
 Levits: results of Riga City Council elections are solid and satisfactoryhttps://bnn-news.com/levits-results-of-riga-city-council-elections-are-solid-and-satisfactory-216587
 Levits: results of Riga City Council elections are solid and satisfactoryhttps://bnn-news.com/levits-results-of-riga-city-council-elections-are-solid-and-satisfactory-216587
 “New Unity” and JKP support the promotion of Staķis to the position of the mayor of Riga https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/zinas/latvija/jauna-vienotiba-un-jkp-atbalsta-staka-virzisanu-rigas-mera-amatam.a372509/
*This article has been made in cooperation with China-CEE institute and is the intellectual property of China-CEE institute
The LAS Presidential Election celebration took place at the Latvian Academy of Sciences
On October 8, the LAS Presidential Election celebration took place at the Latvian Academy of Sciences! The best minds of Latvia gathered in one place The high-rise building of the Academy of Sciences, which does not happen often, especially during COVID. We sincerely congratulate and are proud that an outstanding Latvian scientist, long-term director of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis and inventor of several innovations Ivars Kalvins has become the new President of the LAS.