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EU Related Referendums

A referendum on Latvia joining the European Union (EU) was held on September 20, 2003. Latvia was the last candidate country to hold a referendum and some observers asserted that the timing was chosen on purpose to take advantage of presumably positive examples set by other newcomers. Early 2003 opinion polls suggested an increased skepticism towards EU. Reasons for skepticism about the EU seemed to fall into two groups. Latvians were primarily concerned about a loss of sovereignty and national identity within the EU, decreased importance of national culture and the use of Latvian language, adaptation of farming practices to EU requirements, the tightly regulated EU internal market, and a rapid price increase decreasing the already relatively low living standards. Slavic minorities were also concerned about a price increase, in addition to the prospects for maintaining and developing economic ties with Russia, and possibilities to travel freely to Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and maintaining cultural/humanitarian links to their relatives there (Ikstens, 2004).

The turnout of the referendum was 71.45 percent. Out of 1,010,467 votes cast, 67.50 percent supported Latvia joining the EU and 32.51 percent were against it.

Referendum on the Accession to the European Union, 2003. NUTS 3.


Ikstens, J. 2004. Latvia. European Journal of Political Research, Volume 43: 1054-1058.

Election results, The Central Election Commission of Latvia: