Parliamentary speaker Muntianas survives second no-confidence vote

  • 2007-05-23
  • By Arturas Racas

UNDER FIRE: Though Muntianas was in no real danger from the no-confidence vote, his effectiveness is being questioned by the opposition.

VILNIUS - The speaker of Lithuania's parliament, Viktoras Muntianas, dodged a political bullet on May 22 by surviving a no-confidence vote, the second such vote held since he took the position last year. During the secret vote in Parliament, only 29 lawmakers supported the call to remove him from his post, which had been initiated by the Liberal Movement faction.

Twenty parliamentarians out of the 53 who participated in the ballot voted against the speaker's dismissal, and four ballots were invalidated. The votes of more than half of Parliament's 141 legislators would have been needed to remove Muntianas.
Lawmakers from the Social Democratic Party, Liberal Center Union, Civic Democracy Party and Farmers' Union, which belong to the ruling coalition, did not participate in the vote.
Petras Austrevicius, chairman of the Liberal Movement, speaking prior to the vote said that Muntianas should step down because he is not able to organize the parliament's work.
"We spend too much time on approving our agendas, on empty debates, while the important issues remain unsolved," Austrevicius said.

"Chaos has become the business card of Parliament," he added.
Austrevicius also criticized the speaker for what he deemed poor work by Parliament's chancellery, including the recent decision to launch a Chinese language version of the parliament's website.
"Why is the Chinese language so important? Why not Latvian, Estonian or Polish?" Austrevicius asked.
Muntianas rejected the accusations stressing that the current parliament is the first one in which the ruling coalition has no clear majority, which makes some decisions more complicated.
He also said that reforms in the parliament's chancellery had been started and that the new structure of the parliament has already been approved.

"Yes, the majority of society does not trust Parliament, but this is not my fault, as people do not trust political parties and some individual politicians. So, we should all work together if we want to change the situation," Muntianas said.
Speaking after the vote he expressed the hope that it would be the last such test for him.
"I would not like to see a third no-confidence vote, since a Lithuanian proverb says that the third time does not lie," Muntianas said.

The first no-confidence vote against Muntianas was launched last September by the Liberal Democrat Party. That move to dismiss the parliamentary speaker was supported by 39 lawmakers.