Lithuanian parliament lowers electoral threshold in second attempt


The Lithuanian Seimas voted on Tuesday to lower the parliamentary election threshold to 3 percent for parties and 5 percent for party coalitions.

Sixty MPs voted in favour of the change, one opposed and eight lawmakers abstained.

In the  previous attempt   to pass the bill last week, opposition MPs walked out of the vote, depriving it of the necessary 71-member quorum.

The amendment was backed by members of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, the Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, the political group ‘For Lithuania’s Welfare’, and several non-affiliated MPs.

The opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the liberals and the social democrats did not vote.

During the final bill adoption stage, the Seimas of Lithuania gave its backing to the proposal by the Farmers and Greens leader Ramūnas Karbauskis and Naglis Puteikis, leader of the Centre Party, to reduce the current election thresholds to 3 percent for political parties and to 5 percent for party coalitions.

Currently, to be awarded seats parties need to get at least 5 percent of the vote in the multi-member constituency. Party coalitions had to clear a 7-percent threshold.

Half of the members in Lithuania’s 141-seat legislature are elected via a proportional representation system.

In the 2016 general election, six parties cleared the 5-percent mark. Two more lists would have been awarded seats under the new rule.

Proponents of the amendment argued that a lower threshold would ensure more democratic representation, while critics maintained it would lead to more fragmented parliaments.

Several ruling coalition partners, including the Social Democratic Labour Party, would not clear the 5-percent threshold, polls suggest. The opposition insist that the measure is aimed at helping them win seats in next year’s general election.


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