Seimas to decide on overhaul of party subsidies

The Lithuanian parliament plans on Thursday to make a final decision on an overhaul of the model of public funding of political parties.

Shortly before a final vote to be held on Thursday, lawmakers of the breakaway Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDDP) changed their proposals to ensure that their former fellow party members from the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) do not lose their public subsidy.

The LSDDP, the minor ruling coalition partner of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS), was founded earlier this year by a group of former LSDP members, who split from the party last year.

Under the new proposals, tabled by LSDDP MPs Andrius Palionis and Juozas Bernatonis, a new political party that is registered after a parliamentary election but has seats in the Seimas would be allocated funds from the government budget.

The newly-registered amendments were endorsed by the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs on Wednesday and will be put to a final vote by the full parliament on Thursday.

Under an earlier proposal, in case of a split in a political party that leads to the registration of a new party, the state subsidy would have been divided between the two in proportion to the number of seats they hold in the Seimas.

The proposal angered the opposition LSDP, which would have lost a part of its state subsidy, which now amounts to around a million euros annually.

The Social Democrats said they would ask President Dalia Grybauskaitė to veto the amendments and threatened to turn to the Constitutional Court over the legislation.

The latest proposal also brings the results of European Parliament elections back into the formula for calculating a party's subsidy. The results were eliminated from the formula in the initial proposal.

Under the proposal, a party will be eligible for a state subsidy if it receives at least 2 percent of all votes in the last elections to the Seimas, municipal councils and the European Parliament.

Currently, the threshold is set at 3 percent.

Opposition parties have slammed the plans to change the funding model as "political corruption".

Around 5.5 million euros in state subsidies are distributed among political parties annually.

The LSDDP, which did not participate in the elections, currently does not receive any subsidy.

Source: BNS
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