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2019.05.16 11:37

Lithuanian ruling party proposes changing general election date

Jūratė Skėrytė, BNS2019.05.16 11:37

The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS) will propose to change the date of parliamentary elections after the country elects its new president, the ruling party's leader said on Thursday.

“It was our election promise; not all of our MPs remember it. It would be good to hold elections earlier so as to give more time to the newly-elected majority in the Seimas [parliament] and the government to work on [the following year's] budget drafted by the former government," Ramūnas Karbauskis told reporters.

“I think we'll discuss it with the country's new leader. Perhaps we need to hold an early election to carry this through,” he said.

The LVŽS chairman added that his party would not table the respective constitutional amendment unless it had the backing of the opposition.

Karbauskis did not rule out the possibility of holding an early parliamentary election next spring.

Lithuanian opposition MPs say they are open to the ruling party's proposal to move the date of regular general elections from autumn to spring.

“I don't see any problems at all. We're absolutely open and we aren't scared (of the idea),” Seimas Opposition Leader Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen of the Liberal Movement told BNS on Thursday.

Her position was echoed by Gabrielius Landsbergis, leader of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the biggest opposition party in the Seimas.

“Our plan, which reached the media last week, mentioned that the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats would consider moving the elections to an earlier date in spring,” he told BNS.

Shortly after the 2016 election, the LVŽS and several members of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance registered a constitutional amendment to move the date of general elections from October to March to give the newly-elected parliament enough time to draft the coming year's budget.

If the date were moved, the current legislative term would be half a year shorter than usual.

Incumbent President Dalia Grybauskaitė said the proposal was “logical”, but some parliamentarians described it as a populist move.

The proposal was opposed by the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, which was part of the ruling bloc at that time, and the opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

Under the Constitution, regular parliamentary elections are held on the second Sunday of October in the last year of the legislative term.

A constitutional amendment must be debated and voted on twice by the Seimas, with an interval of at least three months between the votes, and requires a two-third majority, or 94 votes, to be adopted.