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Monday 29.05.2017 | Name days: Raivis, Raivo, Maksis
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Lithuanian ruling coalition set to hold grip on power until the end

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Inside the Lithanian Seimas

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Will they stick together until the end or break apart with little to go? And if they stay in the bundle until the new Seimas election next year, will they rub the elbows in the new coalition again?

The answer to the first question is clearer, believe Lithuanian political analysts: power and personal well-being, the adhesive holding the four parties together, will keep the often shaky foundation of the coalition until the very end.

Power is parties’ sweet honey

«Indeed, power, hands on the resources and personal gain are too strong to resist for the most politicians,» says Laurynas Kasčiūnas, a Lithuanian political analyst.

Among the road blocks the coalition of Social Democrats, Order and Justice Party, Labor Party and Electoral Action of Poles has to remove from the road are the newly stitched-up Labor Code, upcoming deliberations of a new budget and even the polarizing issue of illegal migrants, perhaps stomping on the country’s threshold.

The talks that Labour will be the first to slam the door have been most distinct, but they just are not fleshing up yet. Meanwhile, rumours that the ousted-President-turned-MEP Rolandas Paksas-led Order and Justice Party (OJP) will say sayonara to the rest are in the air as long, but, with the parliamentarians, overwhelmingly from the ruling coalition, paving way to having Paksas name on the ballots in Seimas election in 2016 and, possibly, presidential election in 2019, the party seems to go nowhere from the trough of power.

Paksas had been impeached and eventually stripped of his presidential powers back in 2004, following the indictment on perjury and abuse of power.

Much talk, too little action

«You are saying they will slam the door? No one could boot them out, even forcibly,» believes Gediminas Kirkilas, once the Social Democratic Prime Minister and MP now.

The time to shut the door now is just not good, he says.

«Having left the coalition now, they would be devoid of opportunities to boost their ratings ahead of the election. It is always easier to get them growing while in power,» says Kirkilas.

And those, who understand they cannot make it to the Seimas again, won’t tempt their fate, as the grip on power secures a certain status on the social ladder and, well, a decent living.

The last issue sparking sparkles among the four parties is the migrant crisis.

Migrant crisis a divisive issue, but that’s it

Although the parties’ take on it is starkly different- from the embrace by most Social Democrats to ethnical and religious prejudices-fuelled hostility from the Labour Party-the issue, still, will not apparently derail the train of the Coalition.

The Labour, in fact, snub at the notion they are picking political brownies from the stance.

«We raise our party ratings showing the voters what we’ve done in the Coalition. This is a lot more effective way, though, frankly, there are some issues, like that regarding refugees, which we disagree upon. We were against that Interior minister Saulius Skvernelis would speak in Brussels on behalf of Lithuania and give the green light for over a thousand refugees,» Mazuronis was quoted as saying by Lithuanian media.

Lithuania has agreed with the European Commission’s proposal to accept 1105 refugees.

Good-looking women like to pick on?

After the heated exchange in summer with Skvernelis, the Order and Justice Party-delegated minister, Loreta Graužinienė, the Labour Parliament Speaker, has bristled this week against the Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevičius, who is also the chairman of Social Democrat Party.

Unhappy with the new Labour Codex, which has been praised by PM, Graužinienė accused Butkevičius of «power abuse» after he, following the sitting of the Coalition’s Political Council, told unilaterally that the draft will be put for MPs’ voting until mid-December.

A pebble in the Coalition’s wheels, not a boulder on the road, obviously.

Asked what if the Speaker continues scintillating sparks between the Labour and OJP ranks, vying essentially for the same electorate, Kestutis Daukšys, a Labour member, dismissed the fear, noting ironically that Graužinienė is «a good-looking woman.»

«So you know, no wonder she likes to prick,» the MP bantered.

Two ballots ahead will be litmus paper

Paksas, the OJP leader, also poses a major try-out for the Coalition, analysts agree. But, again, hardly the disagreements, if any, will derail the squeaking cart.

As the Parliament, mostly with the votes from the four-party Coalition, voted for Constitutional amendments, paving way to Paksas’ comeback to national politics, another two ballots lying ahead will be the litmus paper on the strength of the Coalition.

Rumours, however, now abound the Labour might turn their back to Paksas in the next ballots.

«We will vote again for the amendments. Why are we portrayed as some evil and unreliable people? What if the Social Democrats will vote against?» wonders Daukšys.

Too few irritants to detest each other

The odds that the ruling coalition will fall apart is «very little», believes Vladas Gaidys, director of market and opinion research center Vilmorus and a well-known Lithuanian sociologist.

«The time for any drastic decisions is just not good now,» he tells BNN. «For any party,» he stresses.

«If the economy were droopy or edging down, then perhaps it would make sense to «wash hands off» and finger at others as the culprits of the deterioration. This is a classic political scenario. But the economic situation remains stable now, with a whopping 74 percent of the population being satisfied with the life. At the level, it has been record-high,» notes the pollster. The new poll will be released next week.

Parties are not embroiled in scandals

That no party has been embroiled in a major scandal or other wrongdoing also signals that the time, again, is not good for anyone’s departure today.

«Maybe the parties could clash over the refugees? But the issue has not shaken up them,» Gaidys says.

The four-member Coalition, he says, should make it to the new Seimas election and «there is a good possibility» that the four will be forming a new Coalition in late 2016, he believes.

«There is not enough irritants to prevent them from talking to each other,» the pollster says.

He also believes that some «populist political movement», founded on nationalist sentiments amid the migrant crisis, might pop up before the election.

Centre-left forces stand better coalition formation chances

Laurynas Kasčiūnas, a political analyst, says he believes the Coalition will last till the end.

«Obviously, the grip on power and what it provides is a very strong adhesive,» the analyst says.«As far the continuation of the same Coalition after the 2016 election is concerned, is hard to predict how things will turn up,» believes Kasčiūnas.

The Social Democrats, he is convinced, will keep up their popularity until the election and «very likely» will be playing one of the «first fiddles» in the formation of a new ruling coalition, he says.

«Characteristically to Lithuania, left-centre political forces usually have stronger coalition-formation capabilities, and it is easier for them to find a common ground,» Kasčiūnas told BNN.

Whether the issue of refugees will be acute through the electoral campaign, remains to be seen, he says.

«Now we just don’t whether it will stand acutely or not a year from now. But it will definitely play certain significance. I doubt if it will be a major factor in the election, though. It might be a hot issue in the future when the migrants might be instigating some cultural clashes. This is obviously not an issue today,» the analyst said.

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