The Saeima is one of the first parliaments in the world to fully shift to remote work during the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to the new e-Saeima platform, plenary sittings can now be held remotely, with MPs participating from outside the parliament premises.
The first remote sitting of the Saeima using the e-Saeima tool is planned on Tuesday, 26 May, at 14:00. During the sitting, MPs will vote on the draft law on the Administrative-territorial reform. Like in other sittings during the emergency situation, MPs will be located in various rooms in the Saeima buildings, but they will also use the new platform. Technical support will also be provided, if necessary.
The work of the Saeima will remain open to the public, and anyone interested may follow the remote sitting live on the Saeima website and the Parliament’s Facebook account, as usual.
“We are very pleased that the Saeima, in cooperation with IT specialists, has been able to create a modern technological solution that allows the Parliament to continue its work in emergency situations even if MPs are not in the parliament building. We have fulfilled the goals set by the heads of the constitutional bodies and the president of Latvia: all branches of power can continue working fully during the emergency situation according to the aims and basic principles set out in the Constitution. It has been ensured at the Parliament that MPs can continue lawmaking and ensure parliamentary oversight over the work of the Cabinet of Ministers,” explained Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima.
The new platform is a unique information technology solution developed specifically for the needs of the Saeima. It ensures the most important functions of parliamentary sittings, namely, the opportunity to debate and vote on items included in the plenary agenda. Both functions work live in real time.
MPs may connect to the e-Saeima platform using a dedicated website on the internet and relying on a secure authentication method — the e-signature. To access a sitting, MPs need computers with an internet connection.
The e-Saeima interface displays the plenary agenda and the list of MPs participating in the debate about the agenda item under consideration. MPs may request to speak in the debate about the item under consideration or any of the upcoming items on the agenda.
There are three “buttons” to cast electronic vote: “for”, “against”, and “abstain”. Upon activation of the voting mode, MPs have 30 seconds to make their decision. During this time, MPs may also change their vote. Afterwards, the results of the vote are displayed on the screen according to the seating plan of the Plenary Chamber of the Saeima.
Live information about the sitting, including the progress of the consideration of items, the list of speakers, and voting results, is available online on the Saeima website next to the plenary agenda.
The e-Saeima platform was developed as a matter of urgency over only a few weeks as a response to the restrictions on assembly introduced during the COVID-19 crisis and the necessity to work remotely, and taking into account the call of the heads of the constitutional bodies of Latvia to implement remote solutions for organising the work of the Parliament.
The company I SIA, better known in the market as “Possible Security”, developed the technological solution tailored to the needs and specific procedures of the Parliament. After evaluating a long list of contenders, this offer was selected as the one meeting the requirements and criteria best and also as the most economically advantageous. The e-Saeima platform was developed by experienced professionals, and the project manager Kirils Solovjovs has considerable experience in working with the public administration in developing various information technology solutions.
“It is an honour and joy for us to help our country. One of our goals in developing and implementing the system was to show that it is possible to create good quality, functional, tailor-made solutions for the public administration in a relatively short period of time. I would like to emphasise and highlight the large potential hidden in small companies; the top small-sized enterprises in Latvia have joined forces to create a very special product for Latvia and its legislature, from scratch,” underlined project manager Kirils Solovjovs.
If the e-Saeima technological solution, created to meet the needs of the emergency situation, proves successful and ensures the work of the Parliament well, there is an option to make the necessary upgrades and use the platform to carry out regular plenary sittings in the future, with MPs working in the premises of the Saeima.
Saeima Press Service