Latvian Official Language Amendment, 2012
A Latvian Official Language Amendment measure was voted on in the country of Latvia possibly on February 18, 2012.
This measure was defeated with 75% of votes against.
This amendment would have added Russian as an official state language in the country of Latvia. The ethnic Russian group Dzimtā valoda (Native Language), petitioned for this measure in November and were able to garner 187,378 valid signatures. This forced the issue to the Latvian parliament which rejected the bill, sending it to a referendum vote by the people.
In order for the vote to be valid, 771,893 votes needed to be cast by residents. The language for the proposed referendum was changed on January 10 because officials were skeptical if the language would confuse voters. The new language just asks those to vote in favor or against adopting legislation to add Russian as an official language.
The National Alliance, a group opposed to the measure, had attempted to block the referendum by starting another petition to block the vote. They noted that they were opposed to Russian as an official language because it took long enough for Latvia to gain independence and adding Russian would be unconstitutional and be against Latvian independence. Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis had also noted his opposition to this referendum and has asked citizens to vote against it. Calls to cancel the referendum had also been voiced, but officials stated that would not happen though this referendum will not solve any of the greater issues in the country.
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|Are you for adopting the proposed legislation ‘Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia’ that would grant Russian the status of the second state language?|
- RT, "Too Russian to have rights? Latvia to vote on 'alien' language," February 6, 2012
- Gulf Times, "February vote on Russian language," January 7, 2012
- Latvians Online, "Vote on language issue set Feb. 18," January 3, 2012
- The Moscow Times, "Latvians Reject Russian as Co-Official Language," February 20, 2012
- Latvians Online, "Saeima stops bill to make Russian official; issue heads to referendum," December 22, 2011
- Bloomberg, "Latvians to Vote on Russian as Second Language, Leta Reports," January 3, 2012
- Latvians Online, "Commission clarifies referendum question; absentee ballot requests due Feb. 4," January 11, 2012
- Euro News, "Latvian Nationalists try to block referendum," January 12, 2012
- Ria Novosti News, "Latvian PM calls for ‘No’ Vote in Russian Language Referendum," January 21, 2012