• March 9, 2017
  • 169

Kubilius: Reducing election threshold for minorities is the opportunity to create something alternative for EAPL-CFA

The parliamentary group of 3 May, which deals with national minorities’ matters, has proposed to reduce the election threshold for parties that represent national minorities in Lithuania.

According to Andrius Kubilius, originator of the group of 3 May, reducing the election threshold would be the opportunity to create something alternative for the Polish party EAPL-CFA, which currently dominates in the parliament. He believes that this could help reduce the influence of Kremlin on politicians of national minorities in Lithuania.

“We suggest considering it. We will see what happens. We should not be afraid of reducing the threshold and there are two reasons why. Firstly, representatives of the EAPL-CFA claim that they are forced to join Russian political organizations in order to cross the election threshold of 5 percent. Secondly, not only Waldemar Tomaszewski, leader of the EAPL-CFA party could strive for votes from Poles, but also other organizations, possibly more liberal and with pro-European attitudes” – said Kubilius.

Kubilius proposes to include the question of reducing election threshold for national minorities into the spring session. He also encourages to address the issue of “letters w, q and x in names at European level.”

At present, a party has to cross the threshold of 5 percent to enter the Seimas in multi-member constituency. Coalition of several political groups has to cross the threshold of 7 percent.

According to Waldemar Tomaszewski, leader of EAPL-CFA and member of the European Parliament, the proposition was made too late. “He has just awakened. We have been proposing to reduce the election threshold for more than 21 years. There was no election threshold for minority organizations in 1992 and during the first free elections the Union of Poles gained 2 percent of votes and had two mandates. This was a common practice, widely used throughout Europe, but it was revoked in 1996” – said Tomaszewski.

During the recent election the EAPL-CFA crossed the threshold – it gained 5.48 percent of votes. The party also crossed the threshold in 2012 – it gained 5.83 percent of votes. In the previous elections the threshold was not crossed and the EAPL-CFA party was represented in the Seimas by a few politicians chosen in single-member constituencies.

Translated by Grzegorz Gaura within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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