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CEC chairman: emergency Saeima elections would cost around EUR 3.36 million

Arnis Cimdars/flickr.com/Ministery of Foreign Affairs

Emergency Saeima elections would be cheaper than regular parliamentary elections. The only difference is that emergency elections have a shorter organization period, BNN was told by the chairman of the Central Election Commission Arnis Cimdars about the risk of emergency elections.

CEC reveals that 13th Seaima elections cost the state budget EUR 3,357,866.

When asked about the 13th Saeima elections, Cimdars said the allocated budget was significantly below the usual. When BNN asked to clarify how much below the usual it was, Cimdars said – at least by one-third.

«Inflation has left its mark, as have the costs. This is seen in procurements of materials. The number of election sites in foreign countries has increased from 80 to 120.»

Cimdars also says wages in the country have grown, but not for workers of CEC election sites. This creates risks for worker qualification in the future. «Workers are forced to drop their main jobs, where they are able to earn more, to instead come to election sites, where wages haven’t grown in the past dozen years. All expenditures have increased, whereas funding has not,» said the chairman of CEC.

He also says any mistake made by a worker of an election site can be interpreted as a serious violation of the law. This is why he believes it is important to secure better wages for workers. This would help motivate people with higher education to work at election sites.

The government should address this problem immediately, says Cimdars, adding that severity is proven by the fact that Riga had to extend terms for candidates search and approve for work at election sites, because the number of people willing to work continues to decline.

Cimdars says the last reserves were used up in this year’s elections. Laughing, he said «not only did gloves come off, but also finger nails and finger tips, as well» – so little was the allocated funding.

When asked why sufficient funding was not found for such an important event as Saeima elections, Cimdars said: «There is no single reason. I allow that Latvia’s total financial situation is not exactly great, and that the people who decide on allocation of funding likely see it in a way that no matter which finger you bite – they all hurt!»

He says CEC’s agenda includes talks with Finance Ministry on the importance of increasing budget funding. «We are resolving this matter with upcoming European Parliament elections in mind. However, until a new government has been formed, we will not learn a thing about the budget.»

Additionally, in relation to the costs of emergency elections Cimdars said their size does not differ from regular elections organized every four years. «This was proven by the emergency Saeima elections of 2011. The costs of those elections were basically identical to the costs of regular elections.» He also adds that the government should not allocate smaller funding for CEC in the event of emergency elections. Otherwise the result could be: no money = no elections.

Even the declining number of voters is no excuse for budget cuts, says Cimdars. «We cannot predict how many voters could show up – we have to work with expectations of everyone coming to vote».

Simona Sjadite


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