Bishop Rancāns as Defender of Latvian Democracy

Andris Marija Jerumanis

The current article examines the legacy of Latvian bishop Jāzeps Rancāns (1886–1969), the last vice-president of Saeima (the Parliament of Free Latvia) before the soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940, and the acting Latvian State President in exile. He was one of the most important personalities in Latvian social and political life.  The article examines his role in the proclamation of Latvian independence in 1918, and his defence of democracy during the takeover of power and the suppression of political parties by Kārlis Ulmanis in 1934. In 1944 during the German occupation he signs a document asking for the restoration of democracy in Latvia. After the war he distinguished himself by reminding Western nations of the loss of democracy in Latvia as a result of Soviet occupation. His work is of current interest for Latvians at a time when we are witnessing a populist drift in Western society and when the establishment of democracy in Latvia is still at an early stage.