Latvia Politics in the 1930’s

Latvia Politics in the 1930's

Political order. – The republic of Latvia, proclaimed on May 27, 1920, was recognized by law on August 11, 1920 by Soviet Russia; January 26, 1921 (on the initiative of Italy) by the main allied powers, Poland and Finland; on 1 February from Germany and then subsequently from all states. She was admitted to the League of Nations on 22 September 1921.

The territory of the state is divided into four regions (Livonia in the north, Courland in the west, Semigallia in the south and Letgallia in the east). Sovereignty resides in the people, who exercise it by means of the diet (Saeima) elected by universal, equal, direct, secret and proportional suffrage; the president of the republic is elected by the diet for three years and can only be re-elected in succession once; the dissolution of the diet, whose mandate lasts three years, can be decided by popular referendum provoked by the president of the republic; the government is formed and chaired by a person, designated by the president of the republic.

Religion. – The great majority of the population is made up of Lutherans, who have a Latvian-speaking and a German-speaking bishop. The Catholics, who come immediately after, depend on the archbishopric of Riga (founded in the 13th century, but re-established as a Catholic bishopric in 1918 and promoted to archbishopric in 1923), immediately subject to the Holy See: they are more numerous in Letgallia and in one part of Courland. Greek Orthodox groups are mainly in Riga, Ventspils and in the southeastern part of Livonia. According to the 1930 census there were: Lutherans, 1,057,877; other Protestants, 17,069; Catholics, 450,210; Greek Orthodox, 169,625; old Catholics, 96,802; Jews, 93,741; others 14,721.

Armed Forces. – Army. – In 1930 the war budget provided for 39,200,000 lat (equal to 144,256,000 Italian lire) and corresponding to 23.7% of the general state budget. The balanced force included, on the same date, 20,500 men. The Latvian army consists of 5 divisions (including 4 infantry and 1 technical) and troops dependent on the artillery inspectorate. The infantry division is made up of 3 infantry regiments (each: 1 connection company, 1 accompanying weapons company, 1 junior officer company, 2 to 3 battalions) and 1 field artillery regiment (on 2 groups, each of 2 gun batteries and 1 howitzers battery). The technical division is made up of non-undivided troops, with the exception of those dependent on the artillery inspectorate, which is responsible for all the artillery (except the field specialty) and tanks.

Troops include: infantry (12 regiments); cavalry (the regiment); artillery (4 campaign regiments; 1 heavy regiment with an anti-aircraft group, 1 coast group); genius (the sappers regiment, 1 electrotechnical battalion); assault chariots and autoblindomitragliatrici (the regiment).

Military service is compulsory, from the age of 21 to 50 (12-15 months in arms; 3 years on leave, at the disposal of the Ministry of War; 15 years in the reserve; the remaining years in the territorial army). The stop is 12 months for the infantry, 15 for the other weapons. Latvia Cha.

Military aviation. – It consists of the land force (“aviation regiment”) and the sea force (“aeronautical division of the navy”). Both depend on the aviation inspector and are divided into squadrons, each equipped with its own type of aircraft.

All pilots and specialized personnel attend a special course of study at the Riga Aviation School, joined to the Aviation Regiment. The types of aircraft in service are the Avro 504, the BFW “Flamingo” and the Italian SVA. The command of the ground air force is located in Riga and that of the sea air force in Liepāja. The airports of Latvia are: Riga, Daugavpils, Krustpils, and Rēzekne.

Navy. – The military navy of Latvia, created at the rise of the republic, is slowly organizing and expanding with purchases of units abroad. It includes (1933) the following units: 2 submarines, Ronis and Spidola, launched in France in 1926, of 390-515 tons. and 14-10 knots, armed with 6 launch tubes, of which two forward and two twins can be swiveled as a cage on deck, and a 76 gun: with a range of 1600 miles in emergence; 1 minelayer, Virsaitis (ex-German, launched in 1917, sunk on the coast of Latvia during the war and raised and restored in 1921) of 525 tons. and 17 knots, armed with 2-88, 2-57 and 4 machine gunners; 2 minelayers-minesweepers, Viesturs and Imanta, launched in France in 1926, of 255 tons. and 14 knots, armed with 1-76 and 4 machine gunners; 1 submarine support vessel, Varonis, launched in 1909 of 45 tonnes; 1 gunner training vessel, Artillerists, 1 hydrographic vessel and 1 icebreaker, Kri š ā nis Waldemaras, launched in 1925, 225o ton. and 14 knots.

The numbers of the navy go up to 45o men (officers, non-commissioned officers and commoners) volunteers and 20o conscripts.

Finances. – Budgets and public debt. – The budget of Latvia is mostly based on customs duties (which alone they give about 1 / 4 overall entry), on fiscal monopolies (especially on that of the Spirits) and the consumer taxes and stamp; direct taxes, on the other hand, are of little importance. The largest expenditure items are for national defense, public education and social assistance.

The decrease in revenues in recent years has been faced with drastic economic measures. At the same time, however, there was an increase in the public debt, which from 84 million lats on 1 June 1928 rose to 106.5 million lats on 1 April 1932, of which 900 thousand lats represented by internal debt and 105.6 million by foreign debt (United States, Great Britain, etc.).

Money and credit. – The monetary unit is the lat (equal to a gold franc) introduced in January 1923 to replace the paper ruble which had been the first currency of the Latvian republic, but had quickly lost much of its value, so much so that it was withdrawn from circulation to the exchange of 5o rubles for 1 lat. The circulation consists of bank and state notes, silver coins and divisional coins. The issuance of banknotes by the Bank of Latvia, in operation since November 1, 1922, is strictly limited by the reserve which must be at least 50%; tickets can be converted into gold on request. As of December 31, 1932, state and bank notes in circulation amounted to 68 million lats; on the same date, the reserve consisted of 36 million gold and 12 million in foreign exchange.

Latvia has three state banks: the Bank of Latvia, which, in addition to being the issuing bank, also has ordinary credit functions and in recent years has carried out a great deal of activity in the field of foreign trade; the Agricultural Bank, established in 1922, and the Mortgage Bank, established in 1924. Among the private credit institutions, the Commercial Bank of Riga, founded in 1871, is of particular importance, and among those that have arisen in recent years we note the Bank Transit Cooperative, the Riga Merchant Bank, the Private Bank of Latvia, the Latvian Anonymous Bank and the Riga International Bank.

Latvia Politics in the 1930's