Labor Party beats Liberal Centrists in constitutional race

  • 2005-09-14
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - The Labor Party has outpaced the Liberal Centrists in a race to collect parliamentarians' signatures on direct mayoral elections.

This week the Liberal Centrists started collecting signatures in support of registering a draft amendment to the constitution to directly elect the head of a municipality. The Laborites, however, beat them to the chase.

Upon collecting 39 signatures at Labor's initiative, amendments on legalizing direct mayoral elections, drafted by faction representatives, were submitted for registration with the Secretariat of the Seimas (Lithuania's parliament) sessions.

A draft constitutional amendment requires at least 36 Parliamentarian signatures in order to be registered with the Secretariat of the Seimas sessions.

The head of Parliament's committee on state administration and local authorities, Labor Party member Stasys Mikelis told the Baltic News Service on Sept. 13 that he saw nothing wrong with efforts to consider a few amendments on direct mayoral elections.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Centrists expressed indignation that representatives of the ruling Labor Party "woke up" only after the opposition showed initiative.

"Such actions are not surprising any more. In this case, just like in other cases, it is more important to us whether the proposed document will be adopted, not put into a drawer, rather than [drawing] alleged honor for that," a Liberal Centrist press release cited member Violeta Boreikiene as saying.

Boreikiene is also deputy chairwoman of the committee on state administration and local authorities.

The Interior Ministry has already prepared amendments to the Law on Local Self-Government, proposing the expansion of mayoral powers if the constitutional amendments on direct elections are adopted.

In order to adopt amendments to the constitution, Parliament has to approve them two times in a row by at least 94 votes. Additionally, there must be a break at least three months between the ballots.

The issue of direct mayoral elections has been discussed for several years now. Municipal council members currently elect the city mayor.

Under Lithuanian law, municipal council elections can be held between Dec. 3, 2006 and Feb. 25, 2007. Parliament sets the date of elections.