September 25, 2017 / 4:09 PM / 10 months ago

Lithuania's Social Democrat MPs disobey party to stay in government

VILNIUS (Reuters) - The Lithuanian government got some much-needed support on Monday when members of parliament from a junior coalition partner surprisingly disavowed their own party’s decision to withdraw from the coalition.

The Social Democratic hierarchy voted on Saturday to leave the government coalition with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Party. Their coalition has held a slim majority in Lithuania’s parliament since last year’s election.

However, the 19-member Social Democratic block in parliament decided to remain in the government after a vote on Monday, disobeying the party’s recently elected chairman, Gintautas Paluckas.

“A majority of the members of parliament think that decision to withdraw from the coalition was rushed and was based on emotions, not on arguments,” the party said in a press release.

The rank and file of the Social Democrats overwhelmingly supported leaving the government in a recent poll, and the party council on Saturday voted by a large margin to quit.

Members of parliament and are not legally obliged to follow party orders. However, Paluckas told reporters the disobedient members of parliament could be thrown out of the party after upcoming reviews, the news agency BNS reported.

Reporting By Andrius Sytas; Editing by Johan Ahlander, Larry King

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