News2023.05.26 17:59

Lithuania’s conservatives propose snap election on September 10

BNS 2023.05.26 17:59

The conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), the biggest party in the parliament, has proposed to call an early general election on September 10.

The draft resolution was registered on Friday by a group of conservative MPs, including Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the party’s chairman, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, head of the TS-LKD political group in the parliament.

“We have just registered the Seimas’ resolution on an early election,” Landsbergis told a news conference.

“The reasons [...] are clear and have been mentioned many times: this is because of the unfolding situation in both local authorities and the Seimas, and because of issues that arise in the state in general [and] in the political system as a whole,” he said.

The resolution will likely be put to the vote “in the first or second week of June”, but a specific date has yet to be set, according to the conservative leader.

According to Landsbergis, the party has not decided yet whether conservative MPs will be instructed that voting in favour of the resolution is mandatory.

The foreign minister would not comment on whether the current government coalition of the TS-LKD, the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party would remain in place if the parliament rejects the motion. Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė has said she will resign if snap election is rejected.

“We are only publicly communicating the next step announced by the prime minister, which is that if the Seimas decides that the Seimas meets the transparency requirements, then the prime minister will return her powers, and then the steps envisaged in the constitution, such as the appointment of a caretaker prime minister and discussions in the Seimas, will be taken,” Landsbergis said.

Asked whether the current conservative-liberal coalition could stay in power, he said “the entire spectrum of options is possible” and that “we’ll see how things go”.

The draft resolution says that doubts about the transparency of expenses of municipal politicians “negatively affect the trust in all parliamentary parties and all political institutions of power”.

According to the conservatives, the “flawed system” that allows municipal council members to abuse expense allowances “creates preconditions for questioning the legitimacy of the Seimas, the government and the political system”, and that the government must renew the mandate of citizens’ trust.

The ruling party announced last week that they would initiate an early parliamentary election, saying that they want to “reset” the political system amid media reports questioning the transparency of the use of allowances for office expenses by some municipal politicians.

Andrius Tapinas, a journalist and public figure, has reported that some municipal politicians maxed out their expense allowances, despite movement restrictions and remote meetings during Covid-19 lockdowns. Moreover, some may have doctored their expense reports, supplying fake receipts to justify their reimbursement claims.

Before the conservatives registered their draft resolution, the parliament rejected an early election proposal from Petras Grazulis, an opposition MP.

The Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party, the conservatives’ coalition partners, have expressed scepticism about snap elections. There seem to be disagreements even within the conservative ranks.

Most opposition parties have said that they favour early elections in principle, but the government has to resign first.

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