The fate of Lithuania's ruling coalition may depend on how the Social Democrats vote on a package of measures aimed at curbing alcohol consumption, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), the bigger party in the coalition, said on May 19.
Alcohol in Norfa shopping centre
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Gintautas Paluckas, the leader of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), said, in turn, that they backed four-fifths of the proposals and called on Karbauskis not to use the rhetoric of ultimatums.

"I am confident today that we will manage to adopt the decisions proposed by the government despite public statements by the parties' leaders. This is very important for us. I have said openly and can repeat that the fate of the coalition may depend on that vote," Karbauskis told the Delfi.lt news website.

The LSDP presidium decided on Thursday to recommend that the party's lawmakers should vote in favor of limiting alcohol selling hours, but vote against raising the legal purchase age to 20 years and against banning the sale of alcoholic drinks during free public evens and in seasonal outdoor cafes.

Paluckas said that the Social Democrats would present this position to their coalition partners next week.

"Our coalition partners have asked us to say by Tuesday what we back and what we do not back. This is what we are going to do. Any such ultimatums, all or nothing statements, sound very strange," he said.

Paluckas underlined that the Social Democrats did not support only three of the 15 proposals.

The amendments to the Law on Alcohol Control, which are currently under debate in the Seimas, would limit the alcohol sale hours to between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. from Mondays through Saturdays and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Currently, retail stores are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the week.

The proposed measures call for increasing the legal age of drinking and buying alcohol from 18 to 20 years. The government also aims to ban alcohol advertising.

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