bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Sunday 15.09.2019 | Name days: Sandra, Gunvaldis, Gunvaris, Sondra
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuanian political newcomers, PECs, deal a blow to parties, experts say

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+2 rating, 2 votes)

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

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Voters in Lithuania mainly voted for public election committees (PECs) during last Sunday’s municipal councillor races, with 26.75 percent of voters expressing their confidence for public election committees in the multi-member constituency.

PECs grabbed over 300 municipal seats, an outstanding result for novices of politics. PECs were first allowed to take part in Lithuania’s municipal elections in 2015 and their popularity has grown ever since.

Nearly all analysts approached by Baltic News Network (BNN) first of all underlined the significant rise of public election committees in the past elections.

«Their popularity has certainly grown exponentially over the last four years, to an extent where they have become powerhouses in traditional politics,» Tomas Janeliūnas, professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science (IIRPS) at Vilnius University, told BNN.

«I’d not be surprised if PECs will be subjected to tougher registration procedures and to tougher financial accountability in the future,» Janeliūnas underlined.

«Despite the split of party, the Social Democratic Party showed strong performance in the provinces. Meanwhile, «farmers» have ramped up their standing throughout the country, adding more municipal council seats than any other political party. Unlike in the Seimas, where the Farmers and Greens Union dominates, the support for political parties throughout the country is spread pretty evenly. It says that regional politics is different from the politics on the national level in Vilnius,» Janeliūnas emphasised to BNN.

Agreeing, Vladas Gaidys, director of Vilmorus, a public opinion and market research centre, told BNN that the surge in recent elections of public election committees is «certainly» something that got all talking about.

«There are loud opinions now that they are weakening the country’s political system and conventional political parties. They however are well received by public, but PECs may see certain restrictions in the future,» Gaidys pondered.

According to him, the fact that the level of voters’ participation in municipal council elections was higher than usually, near to that of the last presidential election, shows that people increasingly care who and how will govern towns and provinces they live in.

Linas Kojala, director of Vilnius-based Eastern Europe studies centre, also discerned the popularity of a series of public election committees in the country.

«They are posing a big challenge to traditional parties and raise many questions whether they should be treated the same way as parties, first of all in terms of the financing, assuming of responsibilities and liabilities,» Kojala told BNN.

The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD) received 264 municipal seats, or 16.02 percent of votes, compared to around 15 percent during the previous municipal election four years ago.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, leader of HU-LCD, has called Sunday’s municipal election a modest victory for the party.

«We call the election a modest victory…Compared to 2015, we now have more mandates, we are the first among political parties and I think it’s an important sign. We have also improved our position in terms of the number of votes. So in general we have a reason to be delighted,» Landsbergis said.

The HU-LCD’s three candidates were elected mayors in the first round of voting, and another 15 will face their rivals in the run-off.

Lithuania’s Social Democratic Party (LSDP) of Lithuania got 259 seats, or 13.26 percent of votes, which was by nearly 7 percent worse than in 2015.

Gintautas Paluckas, chairman of LSDP, admitted that his party will need to re-establish its identity and electorate in the country’s major cities after the split in 2017, but he expected that the party will fare successfully in runoff municipal elections on March 17.

«We are a political organisation that scored victory in the largest number of municipalities, that is, our (candidate) lists came in first, we are leading in the largest number of mayoral races and we have the biggest number of second chances, too,» Paluckas said.

A chunky 11.15 percent of votes went for the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), which was 7 percent more from election four years ago. The «farmers» took 230 seats in municipal councils during 2019-2023.

The results were not as good as the party had expected but the overall position has been bolstered, especially in the cities, the party’s leader Ramūnas Karbauskis underlined.

«Clearly, we have not won this election but we have won many more mandates… I see no point in considering ourselves losers,» he said on Monday, March 4.

«Committees have obviously won the election, and many of our votes, which could have probably been received by the LFGU at the national level, were taken by committees, especially in the cities,» Karbauskis said.

He also paid attention to the fact that the LFGU will have seats on the councils of major cities, including Vilnius, Klaipėda, Marijampolė and Palanga, for the first time. Karbauskis said he would encourage the party’s representatives to form as wide coalitions as possible in different municipalities.

Only two LFGU candidates, including Vytas Jareckas in Biržai District and Antanas Bezaras in Šiauliai District, were on Sunday elected mayors during the first round of voting, with the party’s 11 candidates getting into the run-off.

The scandal-plagued Liberal Movement received a lukewarm 5.9 percent of votes this year, a fall from 14 per cent of support in the 2015 election.

The struggling Labour Party had to accept 5.1 percent of votes, followed by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance with 5.03 percent, the Order and Justice party with 2.95 percent and the Social Democratic Labour Party with 1.67 percent.

The latter was formed after the Social Democrats split in 2017, following disagreement on their participation in the LFGU-led ruling coalition in Lithuanian parliament.

During the 2015 municipal election, the Labour Party was backed by around 9 percent, 8 percent voted for the coalition of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance and the Russian Union, and 6 percent voted for the Order and Justice party.

Commenting the results, Povilas Gylys, former Foreign Affairs minister and now a MP, told BNN that, in the municipal elections, Lithuania’s conventional parties have been dealt a «severe blow» by public election committees.

«Speaking of the Social Democratic Party, a member of which I used to be, some selection of its mayoral candidates was pretty strange to me. Like in Kaunas, for example, where the candidate was little known and with a tarnished reputation,» he noted.

According to Gylys, the election results showed that party Order and Justice has bled off most compared to other political parties.

«The once powerful Labour Party is languishing too despite the efforts of its founder Viktor Uspaskich to resuscitate it,» the parliamentarian asserted.

«Social Democrats and Conservatives (Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats, HU-LCD) did not do bad in the races, however, if we were to look at a larger picture, they as well as other traditional parties are in crisis. I will not be surprised to see them losing their ground in future elections too should ever popular public election committees be allowed to participate in them without any new restrictions,» Gylys underscored to BNN.

Along with the councillor races, mayoral elections were also held simultaneously.

As many as 19 mayors were elected during the first round of voting in the direct mayoral election last Sunday, with the majority of them being incumbent heads of cities and districts.

During the last direct mayoral election in 2015, also 19 politicians were elected mayors during the first round of voting, including 18 candidates representing political parties and one representative of a public election committee.

The incumbent and former mayors of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius and Artūras Zuokas, will face each other in the mayoral elections’ run-off after Šimašius received 37.3 percent of votes in the first round of voting, and Zuokas got 22.7 percent, based on the results from 150 out of 151 capital city’s polling districts.

Labour Party leader Viktor Uspaskich came in third with 10.96 percent, and Dainius Kreivys, representing the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, was fourth with 9.06 percent.

They were followed by Virginijus Sinkevičius, representing the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, with 4.91 percent, Edita Tamošiūnaitė, nominated by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance and the Russian Union, with 4.76 percent, and Social Democrat Gintautas Paluckas with 2.63 percent.

The Šimašius-led public election committee is also leading in terms of won mandates and, based on preliminary data, will have 17 out of 51 seats on the local council.

Šimašius and Zuokas will square off each other in the second round of elections on March 17.

Visvaldas Matijošaitis, the incumbent mayor of Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city of Kaunas, secured an overwhelming victory, receiving almost 80 percent of votes. He was re-elected for a second term with his popular public election committee «Vieningas Kaunas» (United Kaunas).

HU-LCD’s mayoral candidate Jurgita Šiugždinienė came in second, receiving around 12.68 percent of votes.

Meanwhile, in Klaipėda, incumbent mayor Vytautas Grubliauskas will be challenged in the run-off round by Klaipėda Port CEO Arvydas Vaitkus, representing the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

Grubliauskas received 31.15 percent of votes, and Vaitkus was backed by 22.82 percent. Agnė Bilotaitė, of HU-LCD, came in third with 14.73 percent, according to the Central Electoral Commission. Nominated by the Liberal Movement, Simonas Gentvilas was fourth with 8 percent.

Grubliauskas’ public election committee, «Vytautas Grubliauskas and the Team», secured nine seats on the Klaipeda Council, the LFGU will have seven, the HU-LCD got six, and the Liberal Movement and the Centre Party won three seats each.

«I’m glad that Klaipėda residents resisted that populist temptation and appreciated that work done, opened their eyes to what is going on in the city. I would evaluate those aspects positively,» Grubliauskas said.

The election in Klaipėda was characterised by very low turnout, standing at only 38.66 percent.

According to Kojala, of Vilnius-based Eastern Europe studies centre, incumbent mayors have a slight edge in the run-off round on March 17.

«In particular that many of them are on top after the first round and because they possess larger resources to affect the campaign over the remaining stretch till the run-off,» Kojala told BNN.

Ever popular Ričardas Malinauskas, mayor of Lithuania’s southern resort town of Druskininkai, was re-elected to his fourth mayoral term.

Social Democrat Darius Jasaitis was re-elected mayor of the seaside town of Neringa with around 55 percent of votes. And Šarūnas Vaitkus, representing the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, will serve for a third term as mayor of another seaside resort town, Palanga, after securing 76 percent of votes.


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania: High-ranking judges dismissed, Achema loses EU court case, Lithuania’s EC Commissioner proposed

Last week in and about Lithuania, the top developments were the dismissal of two high-ranking judges, the formation of a new political group in Seimas and the Human Rights Court agreeing to Soviet repressions against Lithuanian partisans as genocide.

BNN summary of the week: state of emergency in Riga; seat for Dombrovskis; politics in construction cartel

At a speedy pace – this is how the emerging crisis in waste management was being prevented in Riga this week. Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš gave Riga City Council a bashing, saying that Riga is attempting to pass on its problems on the shoulders of the entire country. The prime minister asked the capital to settle its own problems. Nevertheless, the government declared a state of emergency in Riga.

Cooperation partners blast government for breach of law in budget development

On Friday, 13 September, multiple cooperation partners of the Latvian government blasted the Cabinet of Ministers for breaching the law in the development of the 2020 state budget.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia up 8.9%

Compared to Q2 2018, hourly labour costs rose by 8.9 % or 79 cents, reaching EUR 9.60 in Q2 2019. Seasonally adjusted data show increase of 7.0 %.

Latvian Justice Ministry insists on improving prison infrastructure

In regards to the topic of the state budget’s fiscal space in 2020 and expenditures for priorities, Latvia’s Justice Ministry insists on maintaining its position in regards to Liepaja Prison’s construction project’s necessity.

UK’s parliament speaker ready to prevent October 31 no-deal Brexit – a violation of law

In the Brexit saga, speaker of a parliamentary chamber has pledged to permit changing the rules of procedure to keep UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson from forcing a no-deal Brexit on October 31, seen as a potential violation of law.

Latvian government allocates more than EUR 192 million for priority tasks

On Friday, 13 September, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers decided at an extraordinary meeting on division of EUR 192.4 million for priority tasks of ministries and independent institutions.

Lithuanian shops using increase in wages to raise prices, analyst asserts

In Lithuania, inflation has been two times faster in 2019 compared to other markets in the euro area. Economist Žygimantas Mauricas believes retailers have used a surge in wages to increase prices, especially in grocery stores.

Beneficial owner status in a company does not always involve receiving material benefits

If a person is declared as a company’s beneficial owner, it does not always mean it is a person who is at the end of the chain and receives material benefits from companies.

Prague to move Soviet army Marshal, despite death threats to Mayor

In the Czech capital of Prague, a local government has decided to take down a monument devoted to a Marshal of the Soviet Union. It is planned to replace it with a memorial of a more general meaning.

Estonia to establish cyber diplomacy body to make its voice heard globally

In Estonia, where the authorities may much attention to computed technology solutions and the e-environment, the Foreign Ministry plans to open a Cyber Diplomacy Department.

Latvian court declares PNB Bank insolvent

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has declared PNB Bank insolvent, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission. Vigo Krastiņš has been approved as the bank’s insolvency administrator.

Latvian government conceptually supports ban for municipalities to run mass media

Municipalities are planned to be applied with a ban to found and publish mass media, as provided by Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee’s supported amendments to the Law on Press and Other Mass Media, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Spain’s flash floods claim lives

Several parts of Spain have been hit by heavy rain, floods and a tornado. The natural calamities have claimed not less than two victims.

UN representative criticizes Latvia for unwillingness to sign Istanbul Convention

Latvia still has not ratified European Council Convention on Prevention of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention, even though it is a major tool for combating domestic violence, said UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women representative Ana Peláez Narváez.

Round dance over? Latvian government agrees on 2020 budget in spite of difficulties

Judging from the last talks held by parties it can be concluded the coalition has reached an agreement on the state budget, said Attīstībai/Par! co-chairman Daniels Pavļuts.

Anrijs Lembergs’ lawyers start reading his client’s court debate speech

Riga Regional Court, which continues viewing the criminal case involving suspended Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs, has started listening to the debate speech of Lembergs’ son Anrijs Lembergs.

Seimas elections in three districts deal a blow to ruling LFGU, Social Democrats’ leader

As two prominent TV faces are set to win the runoff elections to take vacant seats left in Lithuanian parliament after two MPs swapped their parliamentary jobs for mayoral stints and an independent MP, Aušra Maldeikienė, left for Brussels as europarliamentarian, the Lithuanian Social Democrats’ leader, Gintautas Paluckas, who is former vice-mayor of capital city Vilnius, is restless.

Three and a half months left for compulsory installation of smoke detectors in Latvia

Latvian residents are expected to install smoke detectors in their homes – private houses and apartments – by 1 January. For private homes, however, there is an additional requirement – owners are expected to have fire extinguishers on hand as well, reminds State Fire and Rescue Service.

Times ranking: Tartu University – by far best in Baltics

The latest Times Higher Education ranking of the leading large higher education institutions in the world, the University of Tartu has been placed in the group of 301-350 best. Other Baltic universities followed in the group of 801-1000.

Latvia’s high-rank politicians may be involved in scandalous construction cartel

Names of a dozen current and former well-known Latvian politicians are mentioned in the so-called construction cartel criminal case, including Finance Minister Jānis Reirs, politician Edgars Jaunups, former finance and economy minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, ex-chairperson of Unity political party Solvita Āboltiņa and Saeima deputy Jānis Urbanovičs, Ir magazine reports.

Citadele Bank finances Virši-A petrol station network’s expansion

With financing from Citadele Bank, petrol station network Virši-A plans to expand by opening four more petrol stations. Two of them will provide condensed natural gas.

Catalan independence march in Spain attended by 600 000 people

In Barcelona, around 600 000 people have taken part in an annual march to demand the independence of Catalonia, the autonomous region of Spain.

Government finds money to compensate pension delivery tariff rise

Money to compensate tariff increase for home delivery of pensions has been found, said Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča during a Saeima meeting.

Lithuania warns about end in rapid wage growth

«The summer will not last forever,» said Lithuanian Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka about a summary of official economic forecasts, which warn that after a fairly rapid growth, national economy and wages would grow at a somewhat slower pace.