2020.11.24 17:43

Despite Covid-19 outbreak at parliament, Lithuanian MPs vote against remote work

Milena Andrukaitytė, BNS2020.11.24 17:43

Even though over a dozen MPs and an entire party group have been forced to self-isolate due to the coronavirus, the parliament has failed to pass amendments allowing to hold sessions online.

Two amendments to the Seimas Statute, which regulates legislative procedures in the parliament, were proposed by the ruling conservative-liberal bloc, but both failed to muster enough votes to pass. One of the proposals got 70 votes in favour – only one short of the necessary majority – while the other was backed by 58 MPs.

Read more: Entire liberal group in Lithuanian parliament placed in self-isolation

The amendments were backed by the ruling bloc and also some representatives of the opposition Labour Party. However, as 11 members of the Liberal Movement group, part of the ruling coalition, are currently in self-quarantine, the overall number of votes in favour was insufficient.

Jurgis Razma, a conservative deputy speaker of the Seimas, said that “the initiators [of the amendments] will have to think what to do next”.

Under the proposed amendments, in case of an emergency situation when people's health or lives are in danger, Seimas sittings could be held remotely under the Board of the Seimas' decision, using electronic means of communication and ensuring a way to confirm the MPs' identities.

The amendments were criticised by members of the opposition Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS) who said the change should not be rushed and proposed setting up a working group to draft proposals.

The LVŽS says the amendments would have given the ruling block the possibility to abuse their powers.

The Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, was recently forced to cancel two days of sittings due to the coronavirus. It is now in recess until December 3.

On Tuesday, the parliament voted to confirm Ingrida Šimonytė as Lithuania's new prime minister. There were concerns that the ruling coalition might not muster enough votes, but Šimonytė was confirmed by a simple majority of 62 votes.

Read more: Lithuanian parliament approves Šimonytė as prime minister

Most popular