bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 20.02.2020 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris
LithuaniaLithuania

One single vote left the Lithuanian election system intact

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Lithuania, Seimas, election threshold, Naglis Puteikis, Gitanas Nausėda

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The understanding that Lithuania’s election system needs changes is nearly overwhelming, but the ruling Farmers and Greens’ (LFGU) attempt to lower the Parliament election threshold in parties’ multi-member constituency from current 5 per cent to 3 per cent suffered a setback this week.

One vote short

Having jerked in December the election plank down to 3 per cent for political parties and 5 per cent for coalitions, the «farmers» came this week one vote short of rejecting President Gitanas Nausėda’s veto. The head-of-state has spoken against the drastic change and previously backed a 4 per cent threshold for parties and 6 per cent for party coalitions.  Nausėda argued that lower election thresholds would lead to greater fragmentation of the Seimas and make the Government less stable.

On Tuesday, 70 lawmakers voted in favour of lowering the bar to 3 per cent, 51 were against and two MPs abstained. At least 71 votes in favour were necessary for the amendments to be adopted.

Representatives of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, the Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance and some members of the non-attached group voted for the rejection of the presidential veto. Meanwhile, the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the liberals and the social democrats voted against the lowering of the election bar.

So, for now, political parties will have to aim at gaining at least 5 percent of the national vote in the multi-member constituency to get seats in the parliament and coalitions will have to clear a 7 percent threshold.

Accusations flying on the Seimas floor

The preparation for the Tuesday voting triggered a wave of flare-ups on the parliament floor, with the ruling coalition and the opposition trading accusations. Citing phone calls to lawmakers from President’s advisers asking to support President’s veto, Naglis Puteikis, a MP, accused President’s Office of breaching the Lithuanian Constitution.

Conservative Jurgis Razma urged Puteikis to provide «evidence» for the claim and rebuked him for «unsubstantiated» allegations. Žygimantas Povilionis, a Conservative MP, argued that the lowering of the election threshold in some foreign countries has paved way for radical political forces to the legislature.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, chairman of Lithuanian Conservatives (HU-LCD), feared that the changes of the Election Law will increase political instability in the country.  «It is evident that, if adopted, they would have caused even higher defragmentation of the current political system. They would have paved way for many parties on the fringe of the political spectrum to Seimas».

Following the nail-biter voting, Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the LFGU, stayed calm and, likewise his fellow party members, chalked failure off to ostensible pressure from the President’s Office.

«Prior to the voting, I received a phone call from presidential adviser Povilas Mačiulis. Other parliamentarians also received such calls from President’s Office. I am not going to reveal the content of the calls, just let me tell you that such things cannot be said to members of Seimas,» Karbauskis told Lithuanian media.

Election system needs revision

This parliament will probably not get back to the election threshold lowering issue, Karbauskis, said after the Tuesday voting.

«I don’t think it’s worth going back to this issue, the issue is resolved. We can only be glad that members of that party which made the decision in 2000 not to hold the second round of voting in the Seimas election with three months before the election were clapping hands so loud today,» Karbauskis told journalists at the parliament.

However, the understanding that Lithuania’s election system needs revision is growing and it seems that President’s Office will be orchestrating the efforts.

Mačiulis said following the voting: «We are already speaking with party leaders and leaders of the political groups that we need to have a broader look into the whole system and probably even change it radically, but it’s very important not to do that at a time when the Seimas election is not far away as it reminds of parallel from sports…It would the same if weaker teams asked to make the gates wider ahead of the football championship in Qatar because they cannot score». «There are also suggestions and discussion that perhaps it would be changed from the mixed to the proportional system,» the presidential adviser added.

PM argued for election changes

The amendment to the Law on Elections was initiated by liberal MP Simonas Gentvilas motivating his decision with the wish to harmonize the regulation for Seimas and local elections. Now in Lithuania, there are 4 and 6 per cent thresholds for local elections.

Those in favour of the amendments, argued that, with them in force, there will be more democracy and higher representation of the political spectrum in the country.

«Let’s leave it to voters to decide if they want to have traditional parties (in the Seimas) or perhaps less popular ones,» Saulius Skvernelis, Prime Minister of the Government, has said but admitted however that a higher fragmentation in the parliament might make it more difficult to form government coalitions.

Lithuania not a mature democracy yet

Ieva Petronytė-Urbonavičienė, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Behaviour and Institutions of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University,  told BNN that, with the amendments in force, the winners would have been the initiators of the amendments, i.e. Social Democratic Labour Party, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, whose support hovers around 3 per cent.

Andžej Pukšto, a lecture of political sciences at Kaunas Magnus University, told BNN that a lower threshold is not a bad idea, but reminded that Lithuania, unliked Western democracies, elect half of its lawmakers in single-member constituencies, which is a relic in the Western world. Secondly, according to the analyst, Lithuanian political parties, even big ones, lack quality in terms of their programmes, visions, so with smaller parties in Seimas, the quality of the legislative process would suffer.


Leave a reply

Kristīnes Misāne’s representatives say her extradition is temporarily halted

The extradition of Latvian citizen Kristīne Misāne, who is accused of kidnapping her own child, to the South African Republic has been temporarily halted, as Delfi TV ar Jānis Domburs was told by the woman’s sister Mārīte Batraka.

Estonian wind farm land sold for EUR 51.4 million

In Estonia, the auction of a 160-hectare plot of land intended for the erection of wind turbines, has been won by Estonian energy giant Eesti Energia, which offered the price of 51.5 million euros, ERR reports.

Citskovskis: around 3 000 people have left state administration in Latvia in three years

Over the course of three years the number of people employed in Latvia’s state administration has reduced by 3 000 people, as reported by State Chancellery director Jānis Citskovskis at a meeting of Saeima’s Public Administration and Local Government Committee on Wednesday, 19 February.

European Central Bank annuls PNB Bank’s license

The European Central Bank has made a decision to liquidate PNB Bank’s license, as confirmed by Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Number of births in Latvia has increased in January since last year

Over the past four years, birth number is declining, however during the year there are months when greater birth number is registered. Provisional data of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia show that 1.6 thousand newborns were registered in January 2020, which is 5 % more than in the corresponding month a year ago.

133 jobs in welfare liquidated in Latvia last year

A total of 133 jobs were liquidated in Latvia’s welfare sector last year. This was done to reduce and optimize institutions and administration in this sector, as confirmed by Welfare Minister’s advisor Liesma Kalve.

Latvia needs almost 300 million euros to afford Rail Baltica

The funding Latvia needs to implement Rail Baltica project is EUR 297 620 500. This includes EUR 242 385 425 from the Connecting Europe Facility and EUR 55 235 075 from the state co-financing, as reported by Transport Ministry’s communication office.

Spanish government approves digital tax, but waits for OECD deal

As European Union member states seek to tax the profitable business of tech giants, Spanish government has passed a digital services tax, which could affect such US companies as Facebook and Google, according to The Guardian.

Estonian police finds potentially fatal substances added to illegal drugs

In Estonia, the police have informed the society about finding rat poison and washing powder in illegal drugs, ERR reports.

Kariņš: it is blatant we’ve had to wait for so long for a ruling in Maxima tragedy case

It is blatant that we have had to wait for more than six years between the Maxima tragedy and a ruling in the criminal case, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 19 February.

Latvian government takes over National Opera building

The government has decided to take over the Latvian National Opera and Ballet building and hand it over to Culture Ministry for management, as reported by the ministry’s representative Lita Kokale.

Ukraine warfare escalates; OSCE calls for restraint

In Eastern Ukraine, this week has been marked with a deadly battle between Ukrainian government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called on sides to adhere to agreed ceasefire, US news portal Radio Free Europe reports.

Rīgas satiksme new management’s stance on contract with Rīgas karte remains unclear

Municipal public transport company LLC Rīgas satiksme’s new board offers no clarity in relation to potentially terminating the contract with LLC Rīgas karte, as Saeima’s Public Expenditures and Audit Committee was told by RS board chairperson Džineta Innusa.

UK would not give visas to unskilled EU labour after Brexit

The British government has announced its immigration plan for the period after Brexit. It sets forth not issuing visas to unskilled labour from European countries, the BBC reports.

Attīstībai/Par! and Progressive party to run in Riga elections together

Party union Attīstībai/Par! and the Progressive party have decided to put together a shared list of candidates in the upcoming snap elections in Riga. Mārtiņš Staķis will be their mayoral candidate, as confirmed by Attīstībai/Par! representative Aleksis Zoldners.

Einars Repše becomes Baltic International Bank’s council head’s advisor

Latvia’s ex-prime minister and once the governor of the Bank of Latvia Einars Repše has become the advisor to Baltic International Bank’s council chairman Valērijs Belokoņs, as confirmed by the bank.

Prosecutor General’s Office requests Denmark to extradite Misāne to Latvia

The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Latvia has sent a request to Danish authorities regarding the extradition of Kristīne Misāne to the country, as confirmed by the office’s press-secretary Laura Majevska.

In pictures: UK hit by heaviest winter floods of past years

The storm Dennis has heavy flooding to the United Kingdom as widespread rainfall came a week after the powerful storm Ciara, according to The Guardian.

FDP: economic growth may be slowed by multiple global and domestic risks

Latvia’s Fiscal Discipline Council agree on Finance Ministry’s analysis, expecting the strong effect from slowed economic growth to remain in 2020, the council says.

Estonia dismisses Beijing’s call to amend intelligence report unfavourable to China

Estonian diplomats have rejected a call by the Chinese Embassy in Tallinn to amend an annual security report by the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service pointing to growing influence of China in Estonia, ERR reports.

Latvian ex-state secretary has no plans to take disciplinary case to court

Economy Ministry’s state secretary Ēriks Eglītis, who was suspended from his post, has no plans at the moment to take the disciplinary case to court, as the man confirmed in an interview to Latvijas Radio on Tuesday, 18 February.

Multi-billionaire Bezos promises USD 10 billion to help tackle climate change

In the US, the founder of the e-commerce giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has pledged to allocate a funding of USD 10 billion for fighting climate change, British public broadcaster BBC reports.

Latvia will continue fighting for fair financing in EU’s next multi-year budget

It is in Latvia’s interests to reach a timely agreement on the next European Union (EU) multi-year budget to help contribute to projects and secure uninterrupted investments in Latvia, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Land acquisition for Rail Baltica going slow in Estonia

As Estonia seeks a stretch of land across the country for the construction of the pan-Baltic railway Rail Baltica, only 32 plots of land have been acquired out of some 650 needed, Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports.

Construction engineer Sergets sentenced to six years in prison in Maxima tragedy case

On Tuesday, 18 February, Riga City Pārdaugava Court commenced reading the ruling in the so-called Maxima tragedy criminal case, sentencing construction engineer Ivars Sergets to six years in prison, as well as five year prohibition to work in his profession.


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!