Last Updated: 04.11.2015

History of the State Chancellery

The formation and development of the State Chancellery

1918–1934 

Following the proclamation of the independent State of Latvia on 18 November 1918 its higher state administrative body - the Provisional Government of Latvia - was established.

A separate document on formation of the Chancellery of the Provisional Government cannot be found. The government administration of the independent Latvia was first mentioned on 26 November 1918 when administrator of the Chancellery of the Provisional Government Dāvids Rudzītis prepared the protocol of the first official sitting of the Government. On 1 January 1919, the Government “establishes that Dāvids Rudzītis has been in his position as the administrator of the Chancellery of the Provisional Government since 20 November 1918”. Therefore, 20 November 1918 can be considered as the date of formation of the State Chancellery.

The institution was conferred its current name on 11 April 1919 when the Chancellery of the Provisional Government was renamed the State Chancellery, and D.Rudzītis was appointed as the Director of the State Chancellery. Initially, the State Chancellery employed only 20 persons.

On 5 August 1919, the Provisional Government of Latvia adopted the “Provisional Rules of the State Chancellery” and on 8 August 1919 – the rules of procedure of the sittings of the Cabinet of Ministers. Those documents laid down the ground rules for organising the sittings of the Cabinet of Ministers and the responsibilities of the State Chancellery – “ensuring the management of the documentation and work of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Prime Minister; administration of particular areas falling within the scope of the State Chancellery: management and issuing of laws, publishing of the official gazette, typography, library, archive" etc.

Upon an order by the Prime Minister, the State Chancellery convened sittings of the Government and announced to the participants of the sitting the agenda of the sitting and drafts to be concerned. The director of the State Chancellery prepared the sitting’s protocol which contained the number of participants and the content of the most important debates and the decisions made. When the protocol was completed, the State Chancellery sent it to all ministries, but the originals of protocol and orders were stored in the archive. The State Chancellery registered all documents to be considered during the sitting of the Government and managed the incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. Those key functions of the State Chancellery have not changed over the years.

Under the State Chancellery, an official gazette Valdības Vēstnesis was created – it contained laws and orders of the Government.

On 25 October 1920, along with the increase in the number of laws passed, the initial responsibilities of the State Chancellery, namely, arrangement and issuing of laws, was assumed by the Ministry of Justice establishing a Codification Division, which further dealt with legal reviewing and arrangement of laws, as well as issued a collection of laws and orders by the Government of Latvia.

The Instruction on internal activities and procedures of the Cabinet of Ministers adopted in July 1925 provided for the formation of a special council (“small cabinet”) for dealing with the examination of the draft documents and other presented proposals in the technical aspect and only then they are considered by the Cabinet of Ministers in its full composition. The director of the State Chancellery was also among the members of the “small cabinet”.

The Law on the Structure of the Cabinet of Ministers adopted on 1 April 1925 stipulated that “the State Chancellery shall oversee the record-keeping of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister. The director of the State Chancellery shall administer the budget of the Cabinet and of the State Chancellery.” This law also laid down that the director and other civil servants of the State Chancellery are contracted in compliance with the Civil Service Law. Thus, the legal status of the State Chancellery was enforced.

1934–1940

On 15 May 1934, a coup led by Kārlis Ulmanis took place. The Saeima (Parliament) was dissolved and activities of the political parties halted. It implemented not only the functions of the executive power but it had also become a legislative power, fully taking over the functions of the Saeima. The role of the government administration significantly increased, for example, the Codification Division which from the Ministry of Justice in 1926 went under the Saeimanow had come under the authority of the State Chancellery. During the authoritarian regime, the concentration of power and the role of public institutions were ever more increased and in 1936 K.Ulmanis became the President and the Prime Minister of Latvia.

According to the announcement of the President and the Prime Minister of 15 November 1938, D.Rudzītis was invited to become a member of the Cabinet of Ministers. At the same time, he also continued to perform his duties in the capacity of the director of the State Chancellery. 

1940–1990

On 17 June 1940, Latvia came under the occupation by the Soviet forces. The USSR administration tried to achieve the conditions under which further annexation of Latvia would seem legal – the public institutions continued to work under strict supervision by the USSR for the following few months. Formally, operation of the State Chancellery ceased on 27 August 1940, when it was renamed as the Chancellery of the Council of People's Commissars but in fact the final date was June 17, 1940, when the Government of K.Ulmanis ceased to exist.

For the following 50 years the territory of Latvia remained under foreign powers. During 1941–1945 the territory of Latvia was under control by the Nazi Germany, and after the deafeat of Germany in World War II the Soviet occupation regime returned to the territory of Latvia. A further sovietisation of Latvia was being carried out, the government of the Latvian SSR and its administration (since 1946 – Affairs Administration of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR) did not act in the interests of the Latvian nation. For example, on 17 March 1949, the decision on deportation of more than 40,000 people in Latvia to the most distant regions of the USSR was signed both by the Chair of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR and I.Bastins, Affairs Manager of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR.

M. Gorbachev after becoming a Soviet leader in 1985 launched democratic reforms. That was the beginning ofAtmoda (Latvian national awakening), the Government of the Latvian SSR and its administration commenced implementation of an independent policy; already in 1990 the majority in the Government supported the idea for an independent state.

Following the renewal of the Latvian independence, all power structures of the Latvian SSR were reorganised including the Affairs Administration of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR and the renewal of the State Chancellery.

1990–2008

After the adoption of the declaration of independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990 the democratic reforms in the public administration of Latvia were launched. By the time when the Latvian Constitution (Satversme) and the Law on Structure of the Cabinet of Ministers were re-enforced, the State Chancellery had experienced three reorganisations.

According to the decision “On Activities of the Public Administration Institutions under Conditions of Restoring the Independence” adopted by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia on 25 May 1990, the Affairs Administration of the Council of Ministers was abolished and replaced by the Government Administration of the Republic of Latvia, headed by Kārlis Līcis, Minister of Governmental Affairs, in order to ensure the implementation of the operative activities of the Council of the Ministers.

On 26 November 1991, the Government Administration was abolished and replaced by the Government Apparatus headed by Valdis Zeikats.

The name of the State Chancellery was again mentioned in the Law “On the Council of Ministers” of 18 March 1992. Upon the adoption of the decision “On Reorganisation of the Government Apparatus of the Republic of Latvia” of 19 November 1992, the State Chancellery was embraced in the Government Apparatus as a structural unit. The primary responsibility of the Government Apparatus remained the same – providing the activities of the Government.

The renewed State Chancellery

With the election of the 5th Saeima, the Constitution (Satversme) of Latvia was renewed and on 3 August 1993 the Law “On Re-enforcement of the Law “On Structure of the Cabinet of Ministers” of 1 April 1925” came into effect. The abovementioned law renewed the historical status of the State Chancellery and stipulated its key functions, namely, the provision of the activities of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Prime Minister, and ensuring optimal and operational decision-making in line with the Constitution and other laws.

Activities of the State Chancellery are regulated by the Rules of the State Chancellery approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 20 May 2003. Gunta Veismane was the Director of the State Chancellery from 25 April 2000 - 31 December 2010, from January 2011 - June 2015 the Director of the State Chancellery was Elita Dreimane. Since September 2015 the Director of the State Chancellery is Mārtiņš Krieviņš.