Using indicators in Latvia: active citizenship policy


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Presentation by PROVIDUS researcher Dace Akule in seminar on Social Inclusion and Active Citizenship Indicators in Lisbon, Portugal (November 29, 2012 - November 30, 2012).
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Using indicators in Latvia: active citizenship policy

  1. 1. 5Using indicators in Latvia: active citizenship policy Dace Akule, policy researcher, Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS
  2. 2. Third country nationals in Latvia• Non-citizens - legal status created as a transitional measure forpermanent non-Latvian residents who lost the citizenship of SovietUnion in 1991 when Latvia regained its independence and decided notto grant automatic citizenship to all its permanent residents. Accordingto Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, there are approximately312,000 non-citizens in Latvia in 2012 (approximately 14% ofpopulation),• Persons with a nationality of a third country: 2-3% of population(largest group 1.4% Russian citizens).
  3. 3. Naturalization• 98% of naturalization candidates are Latvia’s non-citizens (source: Krūma K.Integration and naturalization tests: the new way to European Citizenship. Country Report Latvia”,2010, Centre for Migration Law, Radboud University Nihmegen).• Since 1995 when naturalization started, 139 300 persons have acquiredLatvian citizenship, including 2467 persons in 2011, and 1627 persons in theeight months of 2012,• In 1996 the number of non-citizens was 27%, in 2012 – 14%,• Further decrease in the percentage of non-citizens among Latvia’s populationis one of the objectives of integration policy (“National identity, civil societyand integration policy guidelines 2012-2018” adopted in the government inOctober 2011): – the percentage of non-citizens among Latvian population should reach 9.8% in 2018, – the number of naturalized persons per year should increase from 2330 in 2010, to 5500 in 2018.
  4. 4. Source: Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs• Non-citizens status was created although during the independencemovement Latvia’s People’s Front had promised automatic citizenship(legally without a right to do so).• Not enough explanation why the decision was changed (in line withthe principle of continuity of Latvia’s state), for several years (1991-1995) approximately 700 000 people were unsure about their statusand future in the country, because the law on non-citizens wasadopted in 1995, and non-citizens’ passports were issued as of 1997.
  5. 5. Source: Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs• Heated discussions on their rights and the speed that they should beallowed to naturalize - instead of quotas, regulation first (1995-1998)provided the so-called “windows” when persons of specific age groupswould be allowed to naturalize, ensuring that not too many of themacquire citizenship quickly.• This order was cancelled in 1998 in a referendum, also leading togranting of citizenship to newly born children of non-citizens. This isvisible in naturalization statistics in 1999 and 2000.
  6. 6. Source: Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs• Increase in naturalization also the first years of Latvia’s EUmembership – rights and opportunities of EU citizens, including freemovement of labor,• In 2007-2008 visa free regime for non-citizens with all EU countriesdecreased motivation for naturalization, in addition to visa free regimefor non-citizens to travel to Russia (in place since 2008),• Russian citizens have lower retirement age than in Latvia (non-citizens becoming Russian citizens).
  7. 7. Reasons to acquire citizenshipPolitical participation opportunities on all levels are available only to citizens, asthird country nationals do not have rights to vote or run for election inmunicipality elections.OCMA survey in 2011 involving 750 naturalization candidates shows that themost significant motivating factors were:• life in Latvia (93% respondents agreed this was a significant factor) and a senseof belonging to Latvia (87%)• becoming EU citizens (85%),• benefits to their children (71%),• opportunities to participate in national elections - 71% of non-citizens said thatvoting rights were a very important or rather important motivator to acquirecitizenship,• better opportunities in national labor market (74%) and EU labor market(41%).
  8. 8. Reasons to not acquire citizenshipOCMA survey in 2011 involving 1500 non-citizens shows that :• 25% of respondents think that Latvian citizenship should be grantedto them automatically,• 17% expect easements of naturalization procedure,• 13.5% said it was easier to travel to the countries of Commonwealthof Independent States, e.g. Russia with non-citizens’ passport,• 8% are content with the status of non-citizens,• 1.7% did not want to naturalize,• 35% plan to naturalize in the nearest future,• 25% have the intention to become Latvian citizens.
  9. 9. Citizenship law amendmentsLaw unchanged since 1998, amendments in final reading (plan to enterinto force in January 2013)Limited dual citizenship:• EU, European Free Trade Area and NATO countries,• countries having signed an agreement with Latvia on recognizing dualcitizenship,• if dual citizenship is a result of adoption or marriage,• a special permission is given by the government of Latvia.
  10. 10. Dual citizenshipThe requirement to renounce citizenship to acquire citizenship has beenacknowledged as a problem for third country nationals in Latvia - hidersintegration and person’s ability “to make a positive contribution to thesociety” (source: Immigrants in Latvia: Possibilities and Conditions of Inclusion, Baltic Instituteof Social Studies, 2009).New dual citizenship regulation will not cover citizens of Russia, Ukraineor Belarus (top countries that immigrants come from). Alternatives:• Opposition Harmony Centre suggests allowing dual citizenship withmember states of the Council of Europe,• Latvian government could include signing special agreements on dualcitizenship with these countries among its priorities for immigrantintegration policy.
  11. 11. Non-citizens’ children• In order to register Latvian citizenship of an infant child born toLatvian non-citizens, a request of only one parent would be necessary(at the moment, a request by both parents is required).• The agreement to register the infant child for Latvian citizenship willtake place at the same time when the fact of birth is registered (thiswas not specified in the current law), or until the child has reached theage of 15.• In the age of 15-18 the person can apply by him/herself, after provingLatvian language knowledge.• After the age of 18 the normal naturalization procedure applies.
  12. 12. Non-citizens’ children• Discussions are continuing on the requirement that the parent wouldhave to confirm his/her commitment to help the child learn Latvian anddevelop respect for Latvia, when registering the child for Latviancitizenship. A very similar request is already included in the Citizenshiplaw, but Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs suggests erasing this pointin the final reading.• Provisions regarding the citizenship of infants born to Latvia’s non-citizens are a major improvement to avoid the long-term democraticexclusion of these children. However, this provision will not have aneffect on the Latvian-born children of people who immigrated to Latviaafter it regained independence in 1991.
  13. 13. Subtraction of citizenship• In the third reading coalition party Nationalistic alliance has proposedadding another reason why a citizenship may be subtracted – if aperson “knowingly and significantly violates the promise to be faithfulto the Republic of Latvia that he/ she made when becoming a Latviancitizen”.• In addition, Nationalistic alliance suggests tripling the ‘trial period’ forcitizens, increasing the time when a state can ‘take away’ citizenshipafter a person becomes Latvian citizen from 10 years to 30 years.
  14. 14. Naturalization procedureIn the third reading one parliamentarian proposes to double theresidence time requirement for naturalization candidates – the personwould have to live in Latvia on a permanent residence permit at least10 years (instead of the 5 years requirement currently in place) to bean eligible candidate for citizenship.The current requirement of 5 years of permanent residence in practicealready means at least 10 years of residence in the country before aperson is eligible to naturalize (because the person needs to live inLatvia for at least 5 years to be eligible for a permanent residencepermit, and then needs to wait another 5 years to qualify fornaturalization).
  15. 15. High school graduatesLatvia’s citizenship regulation would become more favorable forimmigration integration with regard to the eligibility for first generationimmigrants and their Latvian-born children, if the parliament wouldsupport the proposal of Harmony Centre to grant the right ofcitizenship to high school graduates:• persons with permanent residence in Latvia,• without the citizenship of another country,• if he/ she has after May 1990 acquired a diploma of primary orsecondary school (after no less than 8 years of studies).
  16. 16. Tax debts, ceremoniesDiscussions in the parliament on tax debts as additional criteria fornaturalization candidates:• the size of grey economy is estimated approximately 30%, avoiding topay taxes on all income is still considered smart (tricking the state), lowtrust in social policy provisions (pensions for future generations) soindividual strategies are chosen.• in this context, why is tax paying a criterion only for naturalizationapplicants? Are there data that people without Latvian citizenship aremore likely to avoid paying taxes?Public consultation on citizenship ceremonies until January 2013.
  17. 17. Inclusive policy discourse?• Even when you’re a citizen, can you be trusted?• Suspicion because: – “they” vote for “their” parties (close ties with Russia), – “they” vote in favor of Russian as second state language (February 2012), – “they” suggest granting automatic citizenship to all non-citizens (2012, referendum was halted), – “they” do not understand “core values” of Latvian constitution.PROVIDUS research “Shrinking citizenship” on parliamentary and mediadebates in Latvia, analyses the discourses of Latvian politicians and the mediaabout nation, citizenship, cultural diversity, history and the nation-state.
  18. 18. Other indicatorsTo measure the results of national integration policy linked to activecitizenship from “National identity, civil society and integration policyguidelines 2012-2018”: Current data Goal for 2018Sense of belonging to Latvia and Europe among 30% for Latvia 75% for Latviapupils of bilingual and Latvian schools 50% for Europe 70% for EuropeSense of belonging to Latvia among Latvians and 70% among 80% amongRussians Latvians Latvians 44% among 55% among Russians RussiansPercentage of Latvian inhabitants who agree that 15% 21%they can influence decision-makingThe average number of NGOs per 1000 inhabitants 6 9Youth participation in voluntary activities 12% 35%Participation in voluntary activities among the 10% 15%general public
  19. 19. Other indicatorsTo measure the results of national integration policy linked to activecitizenship from “National identity, civil society and integration policyguidelines 2012-2018”: Current data Goal for 2018Participation of ethnic minorities in public 24% 26%administrationNumber of active NGOs representing the 15 22interests of third country nationalsPercentage of ethnic minorities celebrating the 46% 66%anniversary of Latvia’s proclamationPeople who have in the last 3 years donated 17% 20%clothes, equipment, food etc to charitiesParticipation in demonstrations and strikes No data available No concrete goals set
  20. 20. Other indicators“Handbook on methodology for evaluating integration policy of third countrynationals”, Baltic Institute of Social Sciences, 2011Rights of third country nationals to:• vote and run for election in municipal elections,• establish a political party and be a member of a political party,• establish a non-governmental organization and be a member of an NGO,• organize and participate in meetings, gatherings, demonstrations and strikes,Policy:• Third country nationals are informed about their political and civicparticipation opportunities on national and municipal level,• State funding for NGOs representing third country nationals at a national andlocal level.
  21. 21. Other indicators“Handbook on methodology for evaluating integration policy of third countrynationals”, Baltic Institute of Social Sciences, 2011• Existence of consultative mechanisms on integration:• with the participation of third country nationals on national level andmunicipal level,• third country nationals are appointed by state/ municipality institutions ortheir own organizations,• councils involve third country nationals’ representatives or experts workingwith third country nationals integration,• consultation takes place on a regular basis, ad hoc basis,
  22. 22. Consultative bodyA consultative body at a national level on immigrant integration is to beestablished in 2012.95% of our recommendations taken on board (from PROVIDUS research “Consultative bodies and dialogue platforms for immigrant communities: lessons from” in 2012):• open call for NGOs (not individual CVs but organizations’ experience) to beevaluated by clear criteria (e.g. active for at least 2 years; cooperationexperience with other NGOs to establish and maintain feedback mechanism),• NGOs of 4 types: non-citizens, recently-arrived migrants, asylum seekers andrefugees, and organizations with expertise on immigrant integration,• the number of NGO representatives should match the number ofrepresentatives from state and municipality institutions,• the inclusion of social partners,• council’s role in planning and evaluating integration programs (e.g. multi-annual and annual integration fund programs), legislation, policy documents.
  23. 23. Additional indicators and policies?Participation in NGOs:• Data on third country nationals/ naturalized migrants among NGOsmembers, staff, board could be acquired via NGO surveys oradministrative data (if NGOs report on this in annual reports on theiractivities),• Problem with data of informal participation (volunteering, taking partin events, not being a member).PROVIDUS study “Political participation of third country nationals in Latvia, Estonia and Poland”, 2011.Active citizenship and participation policies – initiatives for legislation oragenda setting, local level referenda (European Citizens’ initiatives,similar on national level in Latvia) are open only to citizens.