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

Lithuania’s 2016 Parliament election dark horse emerges

(+1 rating, 1 votes)

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

Linas Jegelevicius

The otherwise smooth, predictable and tedious Lithuanian political landscape has been visibly shaken up by the rise of a new, attractive and ambitious political force, Lithuania’s Peasant and Greens Union (LVZS), which is led by a millionaire businessman and generous patron of culture Ramūnas Karbauskis.

Social Democrats and Liberals failed to snatch coveted top-ranker

The party’s constantly-growing ratings are expected to spire after the much sought-after Saulius Skvernelis, the country’s Interior minister, currently enjoying record 60 percent favourability in the polls, has announced this week of participating in the Parliament election later this year on LVZS’s electoral list. He, however, will not join the party so far.

«I’ve made up my mind to participate in the election with people, who base their works, ideas and thought on values. With those who cherish the ambition to change the state (for better) and create other kind of politics, which is human, honest and based on decency and keeping the word,» Skvernelis told at a joint press conference with the party leader, Karbauskis.

The Interior minister had been courted by the Social Democrat Party and Lithuania’s Liberal Movement- they have admitted they were in talks with Skvernelis over his joining- so his decision to join the LVZS electoral list came as astonishment to many.

But many Lithuanian political analysts were not surprised by the decision and lavished Lithuania’s Peasant and Greens Union with praises.

Already dubbed as the nearing election’s «dark horse», LVZS has been constantly adding up a percentage-by-percentage to the growing public support, which has reached a record-high 6.7 percent now, and the coming of Skvernelis is expected to boost it to new heights.

Rise was slow but firm and stable

«The Peasant and Greens Union’s rise has been very slow but firm and stable. Quite astonishingly, the party was off radars of media until very recently, but now the situation has changed. It ended up being in the limelight, which will prop up the party,» Vladas Gaidys, the director of polling and market research company Vilmorus, told BNN.

He confessed he was caught «off guard» by the firm ascension of the Peasant and Greens Union onto the political stage over the last couple of years.

«Such formations as this makes the politics much more interesting,» Gaidys says.

Intrinsically to LVZS, its ascension was marked with the «conquering» of «many hearts» in the provinces, says the pollster.

«Other parties usually focus on their appearances in media as the main tool in growing the popularity. The Peasant and Greens Union has chosen quite another, unchartered by others path: helping out local communities, working with them and enjoying the accomplishments together,» the pollster underlined.

Karbauskis, the party leader, is known as a very successful agrarian businessman, who in his native village of Naisiai in Siauliai district has created an exemplary local community, with its own theatre, newspaper, radio and where all are said to be teetotalers.

He is also the spearhead and main patron of the Naisiai Theatre Festival, a major summer event in Lithuania, also held in Naisiai.

In the recent ranking of Lithuania’s most popular politicians, Karbauskis stands fourth, right after Skvernelis, President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius.

«The party and its leader have already long created a buzz in hinterlands. But the party has for long evaded media’s attention until now. But now it will be in the headlines. No doubts about it,» Gaidys told.

He believes that LVZS can take off with a well thought-out electoral campaign.

«The party is «not-feuding» and, therefore, remains as a second choice for many voters,» the Vilmorus head noted.

How to get around archaic word «peasant»?

The pollster, however, pays attention to the archaic word «peasant» in the party’s name, which, he believes, might ward off some voters.

«The word in Lithuanian sounds very archaic, so it remains to be seen if residents of urban regions will embrace it. I perhaps would not be very surprised if they decide to tweak the name a little bit,» Gaidys said.

The arrival of popular Skvernelis to the party election list will definitely serve as a boost, he agreed.

In the recent party ranking compiled by Spinter tyrimai, a polling company, LVZS in the popularity rankings is rights after the seasoned political heavyweights: Labour Party and Party of Order and Justice.

In the poll, with 10,5 percent of support, the latter stood fourth, behind the Social Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives (Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats), and the Labourists were fifth with 7,4 percent. LVZS gas garnered a record-high 6,7 percent of support in the survey. The Electoral Action of Poles was awarded 4,8 percent of the favourability with MP Linas Balsys – chaired Lithuanian Green Union clinching the last spot in the ranking.

Party has a charismatic leader

The pollsters noted that people living in centers of provinces and those older in age sympathize for Social Democrats. Meanwhile, Liberals are more popular with city residents and those who are better educated and have higher earnings. For that electorate, they are vying with Conservatives, who have a bulky share of supporters in rural areas, too.

«There have not been any changes on top of the party rankings for long, but now the Peasant and Greens Union is set to shake it up», believes Mažvydas Jastramskis, a political analyst and lecturer at the Institute of International Relations and Politics at Vilnius University.

According to him, the party’s success should be chalked up to the charismatic leader, Karbauskis, who has earned respect in Northern Lithuania waging war against alcoholism, especially in his native Naisiai, and rooting it out.

«Besides, part of voters started looking for alternatives for the Party of Order and Justice and the labourists. As the alternative to many is LVZS, which has a certain base of values,» the analyst pointed out.

With Skvernelis on board, the Peasant and Greens Union will, very likely, will hit double-digits in polls, he is convinced.

«That will have a big impact on the balance of ruling coalition and opposition parties in the new Parliament. In other words, the spectrum of possible political coalitions expands with LVZS doing so well,» Jastramskis is convinced.

Speaking to BNN, he called LVZS «typical» to centre-oriented Scandinavian parties.

«I am pretty sure they can speak over a new coalition both with the Social Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals,» Jastramskis told.

Unlike pollster Gaidys, he does not find the party name« archaic».

«Many European parties’ names bear descriptions alluding the century-old history,» he underlined.

Some common values are shared

The analyst called the Skvernelis decision «not the one that could be called easily predicted», but speculated that the minister’s «rationality» has taken over in making up his mind.

«As a rational man and professional, he chose a political force that opens up big possibilities for him. The Social Democrats, who have also invited him to join the party, perhaps thought that he would not make it to top of the party leadership. When it comes to LVZS, it does not have many other outstanding personalities except Karbauskis, so in the party he will definitely be one of its leaders and will be able to have clout on it and its decisions,»  the analyst reasoned.

Regional politics and Karbauskis’s exhortation for a sober Lithuania will be among the topics of common interests between the minister and the rising party, Jastramskis believes.

Speaking to, Bernaras Ivanovas, a political analyst and lecturer of Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, pondered that with Skvernelis on the LVZS electoral list, the party’s ratings will «undoubtedly» go up. And the party’s muscling up will likely come at the expense of Labour Party as well as the Party Order and Justice.

«LVZS is coming out from a shadow, gaining popularity and, with such a popular man as Skvernelis on the list, it is set to strengthen,» the analyst said.


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.