Remove election threshold for minorities: Polish FM in Lithuania

Polish FM Jacek Czaputowicz (L) and Lithuanian PM Saulius Skvernelis (R). Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak

The Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz appealed for the removal of the election threshold for national minorities in parliamentary elections in Lithuania.

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In an interview with the Baltic News Service (BNS) agency, Mr Czaputowicz referred to the opinion of Polish Election Action – Union of Christian Families (AWPL-ZChR) – a political party in Lithuania supporting the rights of the Polish minority – which deplored the fact that, in order to obtain a seat in the Lithuanian parliament, it “is forced to make a coalition with the Russian minority”. “It is not good, particularly since, in both Poland and Lithuania, Russia is considered a threat,” the minister said. He added that he spoke about this matter with the Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis during his visit in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

In the first Lithuanian parliamentary elections in independent Lithuania in 1990, the organisations of national minorities did not have to face any thresholds. It allowed the Union of Poles in Lithuania to win eight seats in the parliament. The five-percent threshold was then introduced in 1996. After the latest general election in 2016, AWPL-ZChR, this time along with Russian organisations, also received eight seats in the Lithuanian parliament.

“I think it would be better if there was no election threshold,” Mr Czaputowicz said.

”An important ally”

During his visit in Vilnius, minister Czaputowicz said that Lithuania is “an important ally” for Poland and that mutual relations “are maintained at the highest level”. “We underscore our common relations and common history,” the FM said after the meeting with his counterpart Linas Linkevicius.

Minister Czaputowicz emphasised that both countries are against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and support the idea of strengthening US military presence in Eastern Europe. He reiterated that Poland would like Lithuania to become independent from Russian energy supplies.