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LATVIJAS FORUMS (LATVIA’S FORUM)

Latvia’s Forum (Latvijas Forums) is a nongovernmental citizens’ initiative to organise local citizens’
assemblies and address challenging issues of local significance. Since its inception in early 2009, Latvia’s
forum has had four rounds of simultaneous citizens’ assemblies nationwide and numerous local forums.
The Forum is more like a movement since it does not have the central administrative head or structures
apart from advisory function played by the initiative’s group.

It was established as a reaction to the city riot in the capital Riga in early 2009. A week after the riot a small
group of ten people, known in their respective fields (media, banking, advertising, academia), came
together to issue a call for the organisation of a citizen’s debate about how to strengthen ability of citizens
to address challenges of the crisis period in a constructive way and how to empower Latvia’s population
to be more proactive in self-organising and claiming part in public governance processes. Over 40 public
authorities from various fields came to formulate the idea of the Forum. The first major Citizens’ assembly
took place on May 31, 2009 simultaneously in 12 towns and cities of Latvia, with the President of Latvia
participating. Since then further three nationwide assemblies have taken place, each focusing on the
urgent and challenging set of issues that would need collective deliberation to find locally adequate and
socially justifiable solutions (how to remedy to closure of local schools, help set up micro business to
those who have lost jobs in the area, etc.). The President of Latvia participated in all three assemblies in
various places and on one occasion led the locally organised workshop. The last nationwide Forum was
organised in the form of Citizen’s jury with online live discussion from five cities. Prior to the Forum
discussion, groups of experts prepared their alternative solutions to a few current socioeconomic issues
(grey economy and tax avoidance, migration to towns and disappearing countryside, etc.). The Citizens’
Juries used the expert analysis of alternative solutions to come to their decision of the most appropriate
nationally and locally.

The Forum has local spillovers as well as continuation online in the form of site www.scenariji.lv
(scenarios). The site is the place to mix views of experts working on five thematic areas with those of
citizens who have their opinion on the main issue – what are the long term challenges and solutions to
the countries' development? Prior to the Parliamentary election in October 2010, the site offered various
interactive tools to evaluate political parties’ proposals (e.g. a tax calculator that allowed users, after
inputting their income data, to see how proposed changes in the tax system would affect their household
budget).

www.scenariji.lv