2019.12.05 16:38

Seimas fails to lower election threshold after opposition boycotts vote

BNS 2019.12.05 16:38

The ruling parties in Lithuania failed to have the existing election threshold reduced to 3 percent amid a lack of a quorum.

Although 59 MPs voted in favour of lowering the election threshold, the bill failed to pass after only 64 lawmakers registered to vote following a boycott by the opposition.

The Lithuanian parliament had backed the initial proposal put forth by the ruling parties to lower the threshold to 4 percent for political parties and 6 percent for coalitions. This version was backed by the presidential office, although Nausėda previously criticised the 3-percent threshold.

Speaking in favour of the amendment, MP Povilas Urbšys, representing the non-attached political group, acknowledged that "the [3-percent] amendment was initiated out of political calculation," but a lower threshold would also lead to a wider public representation.

Read more: Lithuanian parliament backs lower electoral threshold, opposition warns of ‘chaos’

Meanwhile MP Mykolas Majauskas, representing the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, said "lowering the threshold would make the Seimas into a Tower of Babel where it will be hard to make oneself understood".

Now the parties need to exceed a 5 percent threshold in multi-member constituencies to get into the country's parliament, and there's a 7-percent threshold for coalitions.

The bill was initiated by liberal MP Simonas Gentvilas, who said he wished to harmonise the regulation for Seimas and the local elections. Now in Lithuania, there are 4 and 6 percent thresholds for local elections.