Latviski English По-русски
Friday 23.03.2018 | Name days: Mirdza, Žanete, Žanna

Lithuania: party leaders face scrutiny with Seimas election nearer

(+2 rating, 2 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Gabrielius Landsbergis

Linas Jegelevicius for the BNN

The U.S. presidential race is clearly reverberating overseas in a tiny Lithuania, readying for the parliamentary elections in early October. With the Americans scaling Donald Trump, the Republican nominee in the race, whether he is fit or unfit to be a new President of the United States, some Lithuanian analysts started likewise  weighing the leaders of the Lithuanian political parties whether they can be entrusted reins of a new Lithuanian government.

TS-LKD leader fits best

First it was Albinas Januška, the signatory of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, who speaking to the national broadcaster made a guess that Gabrielius Landsbergis, the chairman of the Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), known as Lithuanian conservatives, stands the best chances for the post.

«The scandal that shook up Liberals (the party’s leader Eligijus Masiulis faces bribery charges-L.J.) plays into hand of TS-LKD, which now can collect parliamentary seats in single-mandate constituencies (in which the Liberal candidates were expected to win -L.J.). And it is big now,» Januška said.

The candidacy of Gabrielius Landsbergis, the grandson of Vytautas Landsbergis, the architect of Lithuania’s modern-time politics, for premiership just a couple of months ago seemed «surrealistic», he suggested.

«As the party has been climbing in the polls, now the possibility seems a lot more real. They can possibly form a new government with the peasants (Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union (LVŽS)-L.J.), liberals and somebody else,» the signatory said, adding, «But as half of the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament-L.J.) consists of MPs elected in single-mandate electoral districts, social democrats stand a chance, too, if they show good election results.»

Januška, however, emphasized that not political analysts but the country’s prosecutors are in the best position to make precise forecasts on the election results.

«They are resolvedly now shuffling Lithuania’s political system,» he underscored.

Landsbergis junior lacks experience

Disagreeing on junior Landsbergis, Jūratė Novagrockienė, political scientist at General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, says that the TS-LKD standard-bearer has to obtain more political experience first.

«He has jumped into the politics very swiftly. The fact that he has served as a euro-parliamentarian in Brussels counts little when it comes to accruing experience in national politics. Namely because of the little political experience on the home stage it is too early for him to be a Prime Minister. Wherever the formation of a new coalition takes to, a more solid candidate is necessary,» she says.

Considering Gabrielius Landsbergis for premiership, the party’s inner groups and their interests have to be taken into consideration, as well as the new Coalition partners’ demands, she pointed out.

«And finally, tribute to the party seniors has to be paid. There have been certain blunders within the Conservative Party, so taking into account all, any dissatisfaction (over Gabrielius Landsbergis as PM) within it can stymie the new coalition later; especially that it if such is not a stable entity, just because it encompasses different interests and different party personalities. I think the entirety of the factors is not in favour of Gabrielius Landsbergis as a potential new premier,» Novagrockienė underlined.

Peasants may lead the band

Asked who has the best chance to orchestrate the post-election coalition, she pointed to the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union (LVŽS).

«They are certainly aware of it, so whoever they will be talking to after the elections and whoever will be talking to them, the party holds an advantage over the rest. It does seem that they can be a very attractive partner for a new coalition and can therefore dictate their conditions,» the analyst believes.

However, it is still too premature to extrapolate what parties will be engaged in coalition formation talks, she cautions.

«The results can turn out to be rather unexpected and may not reflect the ratings we are seeing now. There are still many people who do not know who they will vote for. And liberals, and conservatives and peasants and greens can notch up a lot more votes than the ratings suggest them now. And certainly the social democrats’ possibilities in single-mandate districts are not bad,» the analyst claimed.

Similar party election programmes

Approached by BNN, Linas Kojala, the new Director of Vilnius-based Eastern Europe studies centre, underscored that, unlike in the US presidential race, where the candidates are starkly different, the leaders of the most Lithuanian parties are pretty similar.

«What makes the pick-up of a new premier difficult is that party election programmes lack major differences. Therefore, it is hard for the voters to understand what alternatives, if any, the parties and their respective leaders offer,» the analyst pointed out.

Still, Kojala believes that Ramūnas Karbauskis, the chairman of LVŽS has to prove a lot more as a top-tier politician than the rest party leaders.

«As a party leader, he is unfamiliar to many and the party he chairs, LVŽS, is new in the Lithuanian political landscape, too. So from that standpoint, both the party and the leader has to exhibit what the party stands for and what is all about,» Kojala said.

As for Gabrielius Landsbergis, he says the TS-LKD leader signifies change- rejuvenation – in national politics and, therefore, he can attract many younger voters who want the young generation to have a firmer say in politics.

«His young age, novel ideas he is preaching, insistence on the necessity of rejuvenation, as well as the niche left for the conservatives by the embattled liberals after the fall of their leader- all of the factors are in favour of Landsbergis,» the analyst believes.

Some factors more important

Although it’s way too early to predict winners and losers of the election, one of the factors stands out in formation of a new government.

«I mean which party will gain most seats in the new legislature. Whatever the party it appears to be, it will be in a position to start new coalition formation talks,» Kojala underlined. «I’d say we may end up seeing three or even four parties with the votes spread evenly among them. In that case, having a couple of more seats will give the party an edge.»

And if the social democrats gain a mathematical majority in the new Seimas, it will be Algirdas Butkevičius who will continue being PM.

«The social democratic government sometimes lacked determination in tackling issues it was facing, as well as clearer strategic goals. In the context, it would be interesting to observe Butkevičius, whether he would do anything differently in a new government,» the analyst said.

Reflecting on the recent polls lining up social democrats, peasants and conservatives on top, Kojala reasons the parties will likely drift to October 8, the election day, with the support they have now.

«But note that conservatives and social democrats can be misrepresented in the polls, as they do not heed the strong base that both parties have. The turn-up of Conservatives at the voting booths is usually higher than the polls predict,» Kojala noted.

«No 1 question is what party will come out as the election’s winner. And what party will garner most seats in single-mandate districts. The two factors will be key in forming a new ruling coalition,» he emphasized.

Ref: 020/

Leave a reply

Farmers in Latvia dissatisfied with resolution of electricity-related problems

Two months have passed since farmers in Latvia had received unjustifiably large electricity bills. Countless meetings and discussions have taken place in those two months. Unfortunately, no decisive measures have been undertaken to resolve the problem. Farmers are confused with decision-makers’ incisiveness in a matter important to the national economy, as noted by the Farmers’ Saeima.

Life after 25 May: is this the end for free publication of photo galleries from events?

Many of us like to check out photos from concerts, conferences or sport events on gallery portals and social networks to have a look at guests of those events. However, after 25 May, when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, the situation will no longer be the same.

Saeima to establish legal framework for Baltic cooperation in disaster prevention

On Thursday, 22 March, Latvian Saeima supported a legislative draft, ratification of which will help create legal framework with other Baltic States in prevention of disasters, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Number of complaints with postal services on a rise in Latvia

Public Utilities Commission has compiled information about complaints submitted by residents in regards to postal services in 2017. The number of complaints has increased alongside opposing views about package terminals – the regulator has received 37 complaints in total.

Output of livestock products in Latvia increased in 2017

Compared to 2016, output of meat grew by 4.6 % and output of milk by 1.4 % in 2017. In 2017, in Latvia 91.2 thousand tonnes of meat were produced, which is 4.0 thousand tonnes or 4.6 % more than in 2016. The most significant increase was observed in the output of poultry (of 11.3 %) and pork (4.7 %).

Turkey's offensive in Syria condemned by NATO ally Germany

Angela Merkel, the head of the German federal government has stated that Turkey’s military offensive in the northern Syrian town of Afrin was unacceptable and she blamed Russia for simply watching, while attacks by Syrian government forces on besieged eastern Ghouta continue.

Finance minister still believes tax reform in Latvia has brought results

«The tax reform has given us the results we had expected, especially in regards to combating envelope wages,» said Latvia’s Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Planned hospital reorganisation in Lithuanian regions irks both mayors and patients

If the plan of the Lithuanian Ministry of Health to overhaul treatment services in the provinces does not hit a snag, the rural hospitals will be soon providing only essential care and nursing, the focus will be on out-patient care and treatment will be available only in larger county hospitals.

Ventspils beach high in popularity this week; Lembergs gets spotlight time as well

Ventspils ended up in the spotlight in an unusual way this week: seals washed up on the beach there. Animal Freedom emphasizes that human contact with baby seals would hurt them. Residents are asked to maintain at least 50 m distance from them. However, the suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs decided to take photos with baby seals and publish them on his Facebook profile.

Ombudsman: problems in nursing homes and social care centres are associated with lack of funding

Problems in nursing homes and social care centres are largely associated with lack of funding, because it is not possible to perform high-quality work using currently available resources. This is the responsibility of ministries and the government, as ombudsman Juris Jansons mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Estonian music authors receive record royalties for 2017

The organisation, which is tasked by collecting royalties for local and foreign music in Estonia, the Estonian Authors' Society, has received six million euros in royalties in 2017, which is its record level.

Facebook sorry for permitting exploitation of 50 million user data in politics

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for the social network failing to ensure enough privacy to its users that allowed for data on about 50 million of its users to abused by a political consultancy firm.

Zhdanok’s replacement to promote non-citizen matter in European Parliament

Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, who has taken Tatyana Zhdanok’s place in the European Parliament, plans to promote the matter of non-citizens in the institution.

Riga City Council committee supports increasing municipalities’ expenditures by 42.38 mln euro

Following an initiative from the Financial Department, the outlook for the municipality’s base budget revenue has been increased by EUR 1.66 million for 2018. The expenditures portion of the budget is planned to be increased by EUR 42.377 million, as reported by Riga City Council.

French ex-President named suspect in Libya funding case

In France, its ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been named as a suspect in the formal investigation for alleged illicit campaign financing, misappropriation of public funds of Libya and passive corruption.

Finance sector’s development council supports prohibition of shell companies

On Wednesday, 21 March, Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ managed Finance Sector’s Development Council supported initiative on prohibiting shell companies, as confirmed by the prime minister.

Level of producer prices in Latvia’s industry is up 3.4%

Compared to January, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 0.5 % in February 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 0.7 %, but prices of exported products went up by 0.3 %.

Minister: Latvia is far behind its neighbours in terms of digitization and e-skills

In terms of digitization and e-skills, Latvia is far behind its neighbouring countries and the rest of Europe, said Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

OECD: Latvian employees work longest hours in Baltics

In a comparison of Baltic countries per average annual hours worked, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has found earlier this year that the average Latvian worker spends 1,910 hours at work, followed by the Lithuanian employee with 1,885 hours and the average Estonian worker with 1,855 hours.

12th Saeima failed to complete half of its pre-election promises in field of justice

In 2014, Delna – society for openness and Providus think tank received support from all parties represented in the 12th Saeima in regards to an action plan to help strengthen the rule of law in the country.

Russia carries out military drills in Gulf of Finland

Russian Defence Ministry has stated that in the Baltic Sea Gulf of Finland, which has Finland, Russia and Estonia in its coastline, the Russian military has performed drills for its tactical special operations units.

Prime minister doubts Anti-Money Laundering Service head’s competence

«The work performed by the service requires drastic changes. Whether or not it can be done by its current head [Viesturs Burkāns], I am not sure,» said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis in an interview to LNT, commenting on the work performed by Latvian Anti-Money Laundering Service.

Vilnius chosen for office of game developer Lockwood Publishing from UK

UK's mobile game developer Lockwood Publishing has unveiled plans to open its first overseas office in Vilnius, pointing to the industry's talent in Lithuania and the wider region.

Association: municipalities should organize their work on their own

On 6 March, Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments reviewed the letter sent to Riga City Council by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, in which the institution ordered the municipality to review their internal order and lift restrictions on the length of debates and the number of questions deputies are allowed to ask.

Canada moves to increase gun control

Canada's federal federal government has proposed new gun control measures, but they could reduce support to the ruling Liberal Party in rural areas, where guns are widely owned and used.