2019.10.16 10:00

Move to sack Seimas speaker fails in blow to ruling party leader

A vote to remove the Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas, Viktoras Pranckietis, failed when only a few MPs showed up for it on Tuesday night.

Eleven out of 141 lawmakers took part in a secret ballot and three voted in favour of dismissing Pranckietis, seven were against and one ballot paper was invalidated.

At least 71 votes are needed to pass a no-confidence motion.

The move is seen as a blow to Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, who has been trying to remove his former fellow partyman Pranckietis for months.

“The ruling parties showed [...] they are a minority. I believe they have to respect the opinion of other people in the parliament. I will once again call everyone to work and work in peace,” Pranckietis told journalists after the vote.

The speaker said the vote was not about him but about personal matters of Karbauskis.

The Tuesday night vote was attended by members of the opposition and the non-attached group. Farmers and Greens MPs and their coalition partners boycotted the sitting in protest to challenge its legitimacy.

The ruling parties intended to hold the vote on the no-confidence motion to remove the speaker on Thursday, hoping to shore up their side with MPs returning from trips.

However, At Pranckietis' own initiative, the Board of the Seimas called an emergency plenary sitting on his removal on Tuesday.

The ruling parties maintain that the emergency parliamentary sitting violated the Statute of the Seimas, because it took place in the middle of a plenary sitting.

MP Arvydas Nekrošius has referred the matter to the Seimas' Commission on Ethics and Procedures.

Under the Statute of the Seimas, lawmakers cannot demand the dismissal of the same official for a second time during the same session.

Meanwhile Karbauskis told journalists on Tuesday night that MPs would return to the issue of dismissing Pranckietis once the ethics commission delivered its conclusion.

The Farmers and Greens Union has demanded Pranckietis to resign for the past couple of months, as under the new coalition agreement, the position would be given to the Social Democratic Labour Party.

On Tuesday, 53 MPs signed a petition expressing no-confidence in Pranckietis.

The majority of them, however, later withdrew their signatures to make sure the planned vote, held at a wrong time for the ruling parties, would fail. However, members of the opposition backed the vote, stating that they wanted “to end this circus as fast as possible”.