2020.10.29 10:02

Lithuania's election winners start coalition talks

education, taxes and same-sex partnership on the table
BNS2020.10.29 10:02

The Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party plan to start drafting a programme for their planned centre-right government coalition.

Ingrida Šimonytė, the conservative Homeland Union's candidate for prime minister, has said she expects the two liberal parties to put forward their official proposals on Thursday.

The Homeland Union's presidium has named Šimonytė and Gabrielius Landsbergis, the party's leader, as its negotiators in the coalition talks.

Liberal Movement wants tax cuts and online voting

The Lithuanian Liberal Movement wants the government coalition to commit to cutting the personal income tax rate within the next four years, legalising same-sex civil partnerships and online voting, and allowing non-Lithuanian characters in ID documents.

In her Facebook post on Thursday, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the Liberal Movement's leader, unveiled the party's key proposals for the coalition.

Čmilytė-Nielsen said the liberals have selected eight key areas in which they will seek changes.

“We must sign a national agreement on education in 2021. [We must agree on] how to increase funding per student, regardless of the type of educational institution, because today too much money allocated for education settles in other 'lines' without reaching those at the heart of education – children and young people,” she wrote.

The party calls for cutting the personal income tax rate from 20 percent to 15 percent. As for the loss of government revenue, the party says pollution and other environmental taxes, municipal bonds and new jobs in the circular economy would make up the gap.

“As far as human rights are concerned, we emphasise the need to give women more possibilities to balance motherhood and career, and make decisions about their reproductive health,” Čmilytė-Nielsen said.

The Liberal Movement wants to bring a bill on civil partnerships back on the agenda, “to blow the dust off the law on name-spelling in Latin characters”, lower the age threshold for running for parliament to 21 years, and legalise dual citizenship.

The Liberal Movement also wants to delegate more power to local authorities in the fields of land management, employment, social affairs, cultural heritage and other areas.

“We will also make efforts to ensure digitisation and the development of e-democracy so as to have online voting in place at least for the 2023 municipal elections [...] and open up public data,” Čmilytė-Nielsen said.

In the health sector, the liberals suggest strengthening primary care and changing the rules for the reimbursement of drugs.

“When it comes to environmental protection and energy, we must not only follow the green course set by the European Commission, but also set ambitious goals for ourselves that would help both take proper care of our nature and reorient the economy toward a non-polluting one,” the party's leader said.

Read more: Lithuania’s liberal parties to focus on tax breaks, human rights in new coalition

Freedom Party's proposals: better conditions for business and dual citizenship

Meanwhile the Freedom Party wants better business conditions, an agreement on education, a dual citizenship referendum, and same-sex partnership legalisation to be included into the government programme.

The party's leader Aušrinė Armonaitė said on Thursday she had submitted her proposals to the coalition partners.

“We hope the coalition partners will back and approve at least some of them,” Armonaitė told reporters at the parliament.

Speaking of her key proposals, Armonaitė mentioned a zero-percent tax rate for reinvested profits, “friendlier” business supervision, as well as more investment into research and development.

“What we would really like would be a zero tax rate for reinvested profit for businesses to be able to expand. The pandemic and a potential lockdown is again affecting business activity,” she said.

The Freedom Party would also like personal income to be taxed as little as possible.

“In education, we need to update curricula and have a long-term agreement on them and teacher training,” she said.

The Freedom Party will also seek the coalition partners' commitment to hold a referendum on multiple citizenship, legalise the spelling of names using non-Lithuanian characters in ID documents, make swift decisions over 100 days on the legalisation of same-sex partnerships, as well as to decriminalise the possession of psychoactive substances for personal use.

“Respect for human rights and the freedom of speech are the key principles,” Armonaitė said.

The three parties will have at least 74 of 141 seats in the new parliament.

Read more: Lithuania's conservatives pledge changes in alcohol policies but no 'revolution'