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.
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
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.