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Lithuania’s ruling block on Thursday failed to muster enough votes to override President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s veto of amendments aimed at providing a state subsidy to the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDDP).
(Updates throughout) Sixty-eight members of the Seimas voted in favor of overturning the presidential veto, 47 voted against and two abstained. At least 71 votes are required to pass a bill that was returned by the president. The amendments that would have ensured a subsidy of over 200,000 euros to the LSDDP, the minor ruling coalition partner of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS), were supported by all LVŽS lawmakers, except Raimundas Martinėlis, the LSDDP and several Order and Justice MPS. The opposition voted against.
The Seimas also failed to gain sufficient backing to reject the presidential veto of an amendment to the Law on Budget, which would have allowed the government to borrow funds for the funding of new parties. Grybauskaitė sent the amendments back to the Seimas along with her proposals that would have allowed granting a subsidy to the LSDDP starting next year, but the Seimas failed to gather the necessary quorum for passing the revised amendments after opposition lawmakers did not register for the vote. Sixty-nine MPs voted in favor of the amendments, falling two votes short of passing the legislation.
That means that the current rules for allocating subsidies to political parties remain in place, and a party established after elections gets no public funding and the money is divided among parties that received at least 3 percent of the vote in the latest general, municipal and European Parliament election. Meanwhile, lawmakers backed an amendment, proposed by the president, to the Law on Budget, with 108 votes in favore, meaning that the government will be allowed to borrow only to meet NATO commitments.
Returning the bill to the Seimas, the president also proposed that the amendments to the law on the funding of political parties with her corrections came into force on Jan. 1, and not on the day of their signing. According to the president, political parties which have not taken part in a general election could get funding but that must be done without borrowing, but allocating funds from the next year’s budget. The president also proposed three safeguards to prevent subsidy misuse. The LSDDP currently does not receive any state subsidy because it has not participated in any elections. It was founded earlier this year by a group of former members of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), who split from the party last year.