Democracy and rights
Latvia is to be regarded as a functioning
democracy. Respect for human rights is generally good.
But the country still faces challenges in areas such as
corruption, women's rights and the situation of ethnic
The elections are free and there are many different
parties that represent a variety of opinions.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Latvia, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Freedom of assembly and association is guaranteed by
law and respected. Civil society can seem free, but is
generally weak. The constitution guarantees religious
freedom and various communities operate freely in the
Nevertheless, Latvia is the Baltic country that
receives the lowest score in the international
organization Freedom House's annual survey of the state
of democracy in the countries of the world 2018.
The country has been criticized by human rights
organizations for how the Russian minority in the
country is treated. 240,000 people, most of whom are
ethnic Russians, are stateless and may not vote, start
political parties or work in state administration.
Although about 37 percent of the population has Russian
as their first language, Latvian should be used in the
public sector and in private companies that "affect the
public interest". Compliance with the law is controlled
by an inspection that carries out unannounced language
tests at workplaces.
Society is still characterized by a gender stereotype
of women's views. Domestic violence is a problem and the
country has not signed the Council of Europe Convention
on the Prevention and Control of Domestic Violence and
Domestic Violence. Many women who have been subjected to
violence feel that they are not taken seriously by the
police and justice system. 20 percent of the members of
parliament are women.
The view on the rights of LGBTQ people is
conservative and Latvia is ranked as one of the most
difficult countries in the EU to live in as LGBTQ
according to the international NGO Europe's Rainbow
Index. Sexual orientation is not included as a basis for
hate crimes and people who are subjected to harassment
claim to be reluctant to report to the police as they
lack confidence in the police.
Some old networks from the Soviet era have survived
in politics and business, where even oligarchs retained
power. Corruption is a major problem that affects who
gets influence in society (see Social conditions).
In recent years, the country has been shaken by a
series of scandals involving corruption in the financial
sector. The Latvian bank ABLV was accused of money
laundering while the governor was suspected of bribery.
Both investigations were still ongoing in the spring of
Transparency International also testifies to close
links between the political elite and the business
community, which is reflected in some political
decisions. The country's anti-corruption agency, KNAP,
has shed light on the financing of the political parties
- most parties will receive unauthorized donations in
2017. Latvia is ranked 41 out of 180 in Transparency
International's index of perceived corruption (see
Freedom of expression and media
The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the
Latvian press and media law guarantees freedom of the
press. Freedom of expression, however, can be limited,
partly because of the sovereignty, security and moral
principles of the state.
In 2015, a supplement was adopted in the Education
Act which says that schools must conduct "moral teaching
in line with the values of the constitution". In 2016,
exemptions were also introduced with the aim of
responding to Russian disinformation, which means that
teachers who do not show "loyalty" to the Latvian state
in their teaching can be dismissed. Both legislative
amendments have been criticized for restricting freedom
The press is lively and represents many opinions, but
it happens that owners do not respect journalistic
As Latvia's relations with Russia have been strained
during the 2010s (see Foreign Policy and Defense), the
Latvian authorities have on several occasions intervened
in Russian-owned media to prevent what they perceived as
Russian propaganda. At the same time, several Russian
media, forced to leave Moscow to escape prosecution and
censorship, enjoy freedom of the press in Latvia.
Latvia ended up at 41 out of 180 in Reporters Without
Borders Press Freedom Index 2019, which is a drop with a
snap since 2018.
Parliament approves the budget
Several austerity and tax increases are planned for 2010.
Property tax is introduced
After pressure from the lenders, not least Sweden, the government will agree
to still introduce the tax. This opens up for continued crisis loans.
No to property tax
Parliament says no to a new tax requested by the IMF. The ruling party The
People's Party is revolting and voting against Prime Minister Dombrovski's
The pressure against the currency decreases
The IMF pays out almost EUR 200 million in loans. Rumors of devaluation are
Settlement with the IMF
After months of hard negotiations, Latvia concludes an agreement with the
IMF, which opens up for further disbursements of the crisis loans.
Russian-speaking mayor of Riga
Nil Ushakov gets the post since his party Harmonic Center won the local
Emigration is increasing
In a survey, about half of the population say they are prepared to leave
Latvia because of the economic crisis.
New budget cuts
State Bankruptcy threatens if the conditions for new loan disbursements are
not met. Public wages are reduced by another 20 percent (see December 2008) and
pensions are reduced by 10 percent. Hospitals and schools are closed, and taxes
New coalition government
The Party of New Era EU parliamentarian Valdis Dombrovskis forms a new
government with several different parties. The government will continue to
tighten its budget to obtain emergency loans (see December 2008).
The Prime Minister resigns
The two largest coalition parties demand that Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis
leave his post. Godmanis submits his resignation application.
Peasant protests in Riga
The government gives in to the farmers' demands for crisis support. The
Minister of Agriculture is leaving.
A large protest rally in Riga against the government degenerates and leads to