Foreign Ministry Commends Latvian Citizens’ Activity Abroad

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia (February 20, 2012)

Altogether, 39 763 citizens of Latvia abroad participated in the national referendum on the Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia. According to provisional results, 31461 (79.24%) voters were against, but 8163 (20.56%) voted in favor of amendments.

This was the highest-ever turnout of voters abroad. On behalf of all missions, the Foreign Ministry would like to thank the citizens of Latvia for their high commitment to civic duty of voting at this referendum so vital for Latvia. The ministry thanks its staff and Latvians abroad for providing the possibility for the voters to take part in the polls. It must be emphasized that the turnout was especially high in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the lines of voters were long all day, but the people’s understanding and patriotism helped them to overcome the inconveniences. The ministry highly appreciates the patience and enthusiasm of those citizens.

The following locations abroad saw the highest turnout:

In the United Kingdom – 16040:

London – 5086, “Straum?ni” – 2261, Peterborough – 1893, Bradford – 1710, Mansfield – 1190, Boston – 1278, Manchester – 974, Newry – 868, Guernsey – 770.

Ireland – 4864:

Dublin – 3527, Limerick – 855, Cork – 482.

In the United States – 2950: voting districts proposed by the American Latvian Association – 1994, Washington – 483, New York – 473.

In Germany – 2698:

Berlin – 800, Düsseldorf – 537, Frankfurt – 396, Hamburg – 416, Munich – 549.

In Norway – 2009:

Oslo -1412, Bergen – 597.

In Sweden – 1644:

Stockholm – 1445, Gothenburg – 199.

In Denmark –1368:

Copenhagen -569, Vejle – 800.

Outside Latvia, 85 polling stations were set up in 41 countries, which is by eight polling stations more than for the election to the 11th Saeima. Facilities for voting by post were provided at 21 polling stations. Thus broader possibilities to exercise their will were ensured both for Latvians living abroad and for those Latvian citizens of voting age who are abroad for short-term business or tourism. The largest number of polling stations – 15, were set up in the USA; nine were opened in the U.K., and five – in Germany.

A serious reason for opening new polling stations undeniably was an increasing public activity of Latvian citizens living abroad in organizing the election work. New stations were opened in Austria (Graz), Norway (Bergen), Ireland (Cork), the U.K. (Boston, Guernsey, and Manchester), Switzerland (Zurich), and Chile (Santiago).

In association with the Central Election Commission, the work at the polling stations abroad was coordinated by the staff of the Foreign Ministry Consular Department, who ensured a continued informative and advisory support to the polling stations over a broad span of time zones, namely, from 11 pm (Latvia time) on 17.02.2012, when the polling station was opened in Australia (Brisbane), till 8 am on 19.02.2012, when the polls closed in Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco (U.S.)

On the whole, the referendum abroad proceeded smoothly and without incidents.