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Latvia

Yearbook 2012

Latvia. In January, new figures came out about the severe population decline in the country. The result from the 2011 census showed about 2,060,000 residents. As a result, the official figure had shrunk by 13%, more than 300,000 people, in just over a decade. In poor eastern Latvia, the Latgal region has lost every fifth inhabitant. According to countryaah, birth rates are lower than death rates, and hundreds of thousands of Latvians have emigrated during the 2008 crisis years.

2012 Latvia

According to Eurostat (EU Statistics Office), population growth means that Latvia will receive the EU's highest share of pensioners in the future. The prognosis is that 68% of the people are pensioners by 2060 against every quarter of the population today. According to demographers, immigration is the solution, but surveys showed during the year that residents of Latvia are more skeptical of immigration than any other people in the EU. Only 19% of Latvian people believe that immigration enriches the EU's economy and culture, compared to over half of all EU citizens.

In February, a referendum was held on the proposal that Russian should become official language alongside Latvian. About 75% of the voters rejected the proposal. It was the Russian minority that propelled the referendum through signatures from at least 10% of the electorate.

The referendum stirred up sentiment and increased polarization in Latvian politics between the close 60% of the Latvians and just under 30% of the Russians. Parliament adopted a declaration that the Latvian language as the only official language is inextricably linked to Latvia's national identity. Almost all Latvian-speaking members voted for the declaration, while the Russian-speaking people did not participate.

Many litters saw the Russians' election campaign provocative. The hunting general Vladimir Linderman was called "a Jewish revolutionary on his way to a gas canister with a burning match". Linderman stated that he had been subjected to death threats.

In June, Minister of Justice Gaidis Bērziņš, the National Alliance, resigned. He said he was against the government's proposal to appoint a new commission to investigate compensation to the Jewish communities in Latvia for property deprived of them during the Nazis during World War II. He accused Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis of giving in to Jewish lobby groups and said the issue was already sufficiently investigated. In September, Parliament passed amendments to the Citizenship Act. Among other things, non-citizens must promise to ensure that their children learn Latvian and become loyal to the Latvian state in order to obtain citizenship. The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Commissioner for Minorities protested and demanded that all children born after independence in 1991 should automatically become citizens.

Latvia had the highest economic growth in the EU during the first half of the year. GDP then increased by close to 5% compared to the same period last year. However, the economy had not returned to the level before the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008. The Government expected to keep the budget deficit at a maximum of 3% in 2012. Parliament decided that the income tax should be reduced gradually from 25 to 20% between 2013 and 2015.

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