2021.11.13 10:00

Lithuanian parliament voted against decriminalising drugs – what's next?

LRT.lt2021.11.13 10:00

On Thursday, the Lithuanian parliament voted against decriminalising the acquisition and possession of small quantities of drugs.

Amendments, initiated by the liberal Freedom Party of the ruling coalition, would have introduced fines, instead of criminal liability, for the possession of small amounts of drugs.

Sixty-one members of the Lithuanian parliament Seimas voted in favour of the respective amendments, 58 voted against, and seven abstained.

The decriminalisation of the possession of small quantities of drugs was one of the Freedom Party’s priorities in the coalition agreement. Its rejection could raise questions about the party’s future in the governing majority, according to its representatives.

“I think we will discuss this in the coalition,” Morgana Danielė of the Freedom Party, who initiated the amendments, told reporters after the vote on Thursday. “We will talk about how the coalition could work in the future.”

One parliament member of the conservative Homeland Union, the largest party of the ruling majority, voted against the amendments, while two abstained. Ten members of the governing coalition did not show up for the vote.

Aušrinė Armonaitė, chair of the Freedom Party, said that withdrawal from the ruling coalition is unlikely for as long as the government is working on the pandemic management.

“The Freedom Party will certainly evaluate this vote, but we are managing the pandemic, and there are other things that are very important,” Armonaitė said.

According to her, members will discuss internally the implementation of the Freedom Party’s programme.

Read more: Lithuania’s liberal and conservative parties sign coalition agreement

Ieva Pakarklytė, chair of the Freedom Party Political Group in Seimas, said the party council will discuss how to adopt the party’s priority projects.

“Our goal is to adopt these projects. The Committee on Legal Affairs will be working on a new version [of the decriminalisation amendments],” Pakarklytė said.

“There is no question about not being in the coalition. We are talking about projects that are important to us,” she added.

According to political analyst Saulius Spurga, there is no rift between the governing parties. On Thursday, they unanimously rejected three presidential vetoes, including one on a law requiring workers in certain sectors to pay for their own regular Covid-19 tests.

“The ruling majority has demonstrated its unity and ambition,” Spurga said.

“Decriminalisation is a sensitive value issue. It was no secret that certain people in the ruling majority had a slightly different point of view on this question,’ he added.

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