On Wednesday, 16 February, during Job Shadow Day while telling schoolchildren about the work of the parliament, Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, called on them to be active citizens and to start taking part in public affairs, and she expressed hope that active young people will return to the Saeima as politicians.
The Speaker stressed: “In our country, the sovereign power is vested in its people; these are not simply words in our Constitution, but they state the foundational principle of the parliamentary work. People have to get involved not only once every four years to elect a hundred MPs but also during the period between elections. Together we are shaping our country; each and everyone can take part and use one’s energy in order to influence decisions taken by politicians.”
Āboltiņa addressed participants of Job Shadow Day in the Plenary Chamber and explained to them that the plenary sittings on Thursday mornings are only the most visible part of the work of MPs, not the most time-consuming one. The Speaker noted: “Most of the work takes place in the committees where MPs repeatedly examine matters and where line experts come to take part in the discussions.”
Solvita Āboltiņa expressed satisfaction that this year the number of students taking part in Job Shadow Day at the Saeima is the largest. More than 360 students from all over Latvia visited the parliament, which is more than half as many as last years.
Speaker Āboltiņa explained to the shadows of MPs and staff members the process of submitting and considering draft laws, the significant role that the Legal Bureau has in the work of the parliament, the great importance of transcripts, which are a record of plenary sittings and thus can serve as historical evidence and, if necessary, as evidence in court.
The shadowed ones tried to give the students a general overview of the work of the parliament. The students acknowledged that the opportunity to shadow MPs and staff members of the Saeima is an interesting experience that has broadened their horizon. Gundars Daudze, Deputy Speaker of the Saeima, expressed gratification that the interest taken in the Saeima grows from year to year. According to Daudze, this proves that the principle of openness applied by the parliament is correct and that a politically aware generation is growing up.
Kārlis Šadurskis, Secretary of the Saeima, described Job Shadow Day by saying that today the Saeima was full of unusual bustle; he expressed gratification that the young people who come to the parliament are highly motivated, well prepared and curious.
Many of the shadows admitted that they are considering a carrier in politics or political science and that today’s experience will be useful in choosing a major. According to Toms Krastenbergs, a schoolboy at the Murjāņi Sports Gymnasium, when one sees how an MP prepares his arguments for a committee meeting, one’s concept of the work of the Saeima changes. Katrīna Vanaga, a schoolgirl at the Riga State Gymnasium No. 3, said that she was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and responsiveness of the Saeima personnel.
The Saeima hosted not only shadows of MPs and staff members; journalists and invited representatives from various institutions also came to the parliament with their own shadows. This is the third time that the Saeima has taken part in Job Shadow Day. Young people have learned about the work of the MPs from all the parliamentary groups; they have also shadowed interpreters, photographers and other staff members in their daily routine.
Photos from Job Shadow Day in the Saeima: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saeima/sets/72157625940170829/
Video from Job Shadow Day in the Saeima: https://www.youtube.com/saeimaSAB#p/a/u/0/Hp9NcWWiwUk
When using the material, please give credit to the Saeima Chancellery.
Saeima Press Service