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The building of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas)

Lithuanian municipalities are against the creation of a ‘chairman of the council’ position

Lithuanian municipalities are against the creation of a ‘chairman of the council’ position

The country’s mayors argue this would only create conflict and redundancy

Today, the Association of Lithuanian Municipalities (LSA) submitted a letter to the national parliament (Seimas) containing proposals on how to define the future role of the mayors in the country. This was motivated by the creation of a working group in the legislature, which was tasked with defining a new role of powers and responsibilities for the mayors.

The above needs to be understood in the context of a decision made by the country’s Constitutional Court that in order to have a direct election of mayors, there first need to be amendments done to the Constitution. The possibility of mayors being directly elected by the voters, rather than by the town councils, is something that both the municipalities and national MPs see as a necessary reform.

They, however, seem to have different visions when it comes to defining the role of the mayor in the local government. There are parliamentary proposals to also create an additional position of a “chairman of the city council”, which will take over some of the responsibilities previously done by the mayors. LSA is opposed to that.

The proposals made by the local governments

According to Mindaugas Sinkevičius, mayor of Jonava District Municipality and chairman of the LSA, the Association is proposing not to go back to a time when the mayor changed as soon as the balance of power in the council changed. Likewise, they argue that creating a new institution of the council chairman would "be redundant and allow for self-demonstration and conflict."

According to him, the relations between the directly elected mayor and the council should be transparent, based on joint work on the municipality. As for the principles of democracy in the municipality, these are always ensured by the opposition.

The LSA stated there are already examples of a mayor chairing a municipal council without being a member of it in more than one European country, such as Slovenia, Austria, Italy or several types of self-government in Germany.

The association also proposes that the mayor appoint and dismiss one or more vice mayors with the approval of the municipal council, the number of which depends on the size of the municipality.

"Working in the municipality every day, we see that the population expects not only personal political responsibility from the mayor, but also sees it as a strong policy with the authority to initiate and implement decisions that are important for local well-being. The mayor's office must be worthy of citizens coming and electing it directly,” added Mayor Sinkevičius, quoted by LRT.

Direct elections of mayors will enter into force on 3 May 2023, at the end of the term of the incumbent mayors.

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