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Polish minority gains more seats in Lithuanian parliament

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 29.10.2012 11:30
Minority party Electoral Action of Poles (LLRA) has consolidated its new-found status in Lithuania's parliament, winning two more seats in the second round of the general election.

LLRA MP Zdzislaw Palewicz (L) with party leader Waldemar Tomaszewski (2L): photo - PAP/Wojciech Pacewicz

“For the first time ever we will have our own parliamentary faction,” Waldemar Tomaszewski, leader of LLRA, told Polish Radio.

“We will have a voice that counts.”

Sunday's voting pertained to seats that did not see an outright majority during the parliamentary elections of 14 October.

Tomaszewski's party had already secured six seats a fortnight ago, crossing the 5 percent quota of the nationwide vote needed to enter parliament.

The Social Democratic Party has garnered the most votes overall, dislodging outgoing centre-right party the Home Union.

Leader of the Social Democrats, Algirdas Butkevicius, has declared that he will form a coalition with the Labour Party and the Order and Justice.

Between them, the three parties have 78 of the the 141 seats in parliament (Social Democrats 38, Labour Party 29, Order and Justice 11). Outgoing Home Union ultimately managed 33.

This year, the Electoral Action of Poles campaigned under its traditional name, but included representatives of other parties after Tomaszewski forged alliances with Vaidotas Prunskus' Lithuanian People's Party and Russian minority grouping the Russian Alliance.

The Polish minority in Lithuania had been at odds with the outgoing government. Problems included reforms that weakened the autonomy of Polish minority schools, as well as disagreements about whether Poles should be entitled to use Polish spelling in official documents. Similarly, Poles claimed that there was bias against them in reclaiming property seized by the communists in the wake of the Second World War. (nh)

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