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News2019.05.15 09:20

Lithuania's ruling party walks back promises to leave power

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has survived a confidence vote in his party, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union's (LVŽS), on Tuesday, which has also changed its previously stated position to leave the ruling coalition.

A vote of confidence in Skvernelis was held by the party's political group, the biggest in the parliament with 50 MPs.

“The political group has confidence in me as prime minister, and it's very important to me. (…) The most important thing is that the group made the decision not to withdraw from the ruling majority, and how the government will be formed [after the presidential election] is another thing,” Skvernelis told journalists on Tuesday night after the LVŽS group's meeting.

During a secret ballot on Tuesday night, all 46 MPs who attended the meeting voted in favour to express confidence in the prime minister. The prime minister himself had asked for the vote, but did not take part in it himself.

After the first round of voting in the presidential election on Sunday, where Skvernelis came in third, both the prime minister and LVŽS leader Ramūnas Karbauskis said they wanted to check if they still had the party's confidence.

Karbauskis, the leader of the LVŽS political group in the parliament, said on Tuesday that all MPs who attended the Tuesday meeting were in favour of remaining in the ruling coalition.

He also dismissed talks that the party might split. Karbauskis said a coalition agreement might be signed with the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance and the Order and Justice party after the presidential election. At the moment, the LVŽS has a coalition agreement only with the Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania.

Karbauskis says his party will make the final decision on remaining in power or withdrawing after a new president is elected.

On the election night, Skvernelis vowed to step down as prime minister on July 12, but was less categorical on Tuesday.

“I will act according to the Constitution, and I have two options: to return my powers or to resign. I will choose one of them,” he said.

After speaking about withdrawing from power earlier, Karbauskis told journalists on Tuesday he was listening to colleagues and understood that “nobody wants to assume responsibility”.

Nominated by the LVŽS, Skvernelis received 19.67 percent of votes in the first round of voting in the presidential election on May 12 and failed to get into the runoff.

Karbauskis had said earlier his party would walk away if the party's candidate Skvernelis failed to get into the presidential runoff and the party lost the European Parliament election. Such a scenario was earlier backed by the LVŽS political group in the Seimas.

MP Ingrida Šimonytė, representing the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, won the first round of the presidential election with 31.21 percent of the vote. Economist Gitanas Nausėda, an independent candidate, got 30.93 percent of votes.

On Tuesday, the LVŽS also spoke about whether they should support one of the two candidates, but Karbauskis said no decision was made.

LRT has been certified according to the Journalism Trust Initiative Programme

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