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Monday 19.08.2019 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta

President-elect Nausėda meets political leaders, shows compassion to heinous crime victim

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Gitanas Nausėda

Linas Jegelevičius

Lithuanian president-elect Gitanas Nausėda was meeting this week with the leaders of the Lithuanian parliamentary parties. He confirmed that he will make his first official visit to Poland on July 16, right after his inauguration. On Tuesday, Nausėda travelled to Kaunas Clinics, where a savagely beaten, nearly raped teenage girl from the rural Jurbarkas region is recovering.

President-elect wants PM Skvernelis to continue his job

Although he has said he will take an active part in the formation of the new Cabinet, Nausėda underscored this week that his Constitutional powers are limited in the matter, as he can only appoint ministers who have the backing of the parliamentary majority by the Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU). The Constitution obligates the current government to return its powers to Nausėda after his inauguration on July 12. To bolster its standing, the LFGU is exerting to find new coalition partners to bolster standing by the ceremony. The president-elect already pointed out he does not want a thorough shake-up of the current Cabinet. Nausėda expects Saulius Skvernelis, the PM, to stay as Prime Minister, yet he said he doesn’t rule out other options, meaning that other parties, not the LFGU, can be asked to take responsibility of the country.

Nausėda tries to appease opposition?

«However, this is very unlikely. He probably mentioned «other options» to placate the opposition Conservatives (officially, Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats, HU-LCD), who now have been long excoriating the Farmers and the Greens and their government,» Vytautas Dumbliauskas, associate professor at Vilnius Mykolas Romeris University, told BNN. «All the parties are already clearly thinking of the next Seimas election and the heat will rise in the legislature.»

Nausėda reiterated several times that Skvernelis should continue heading the Government, especially that an early parliamentary election next spring is mulled. «I think Skvernelis should assume responsibility for the remaining year and a half,» Nausėda told reporters on Tuesday, June 4.

Stability is Nausėda’s priority

The president-elect has said the stability of the government is his top priority. «I do hope that he [Skvernelis] himself will make efforts to remain in the post of the head of government. However, if there is a different situation and I see that there is too little willingness to work or there are some other goals that would lead to the government being temporary or unstable, I will certainly not be able to endorse such a government or prime minister,» Nausėda said after meeting Skvernelis last Friday, adding that there are no irreplaceable people and there are definitely more candidates in Lithuania to take up the position. «Today, it’s hard to say how that government will look like as the situation has to stabilize, and questions on its make-up have to be answered, as well as on the coalition agreement. Therefore, obviously, it’s too soon to speak about any specific names and specific ministerial candidates,» Nausėda said. Yet he has already named two ministers of the current Cabinet who, according to him, raise «some questions» as far as their suitability for the posts is concerned.

PM Skvernelis is cheerful after meeting Nausėda

Skvernelis, the presidential candidate of the LFGU, hinted several times before the presidential election that he doubts his ability to stay at the helm of the government should another candidate win the race. Before the run-up election in late May, the LFGU exhorted its members to support Nausėda, not Ingrida Šimonytė, the candidate of the Conservatives. After the meeting with the president-elect, Skvernelis was cheerful, signalling that he is willing to head government after Nausėda’s inauguration. He however emphasized that, if entrusted with Cabinet formation, he will «considerably» reshuffle it.

The Cabinet reshuffle reason is different?

Meanwhile, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the leader of the opposition HU-LCD said he was «convinced» that the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s revision of its government coalition agreement is primarily aimed at replacing some ministers, who fell out of favour with the «farmers» and their leader Karbauskis. «I think it all began with a simple wish to get rid of some ministers – (Transport and Communications Minister) Rokas Masiulis following (the sacking of the Klaipeda port’s CEO) Arvydas Vaitkus, (and Defence Minister) Raimundas Karoblis,» Landsbergis told reporters at the Presidential Palace after meeting with Nausėda this week.

Sparks between LFGU leader and Seimas speaker flying

The LFGU, which has the most seats in the Seimas, was continuing talks this week with the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDLP), the Order and Justice Party (OJP) and especially the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (EAPL-CFA) on a new coalition agreement. The LFGU managed to sign a coalition Memorandum with the former two, but did not receive nodding from the EAPL-CFA yet. It was leaked during the talks that the LSDLP has been proposed post of Seimas (Parliament) speaker and two ministerial portfolios in return for support for the LFGU. However, the revelation angered Viktoras Pranckietis, the current chairman of the Seimas, who said he will not step down, even being urged by Ramūnas Karbaukis, the LFGU leader. Both Pranckietis and Karbauskis disseminated open letters to the LFGU members this week, trading personal barbs against each other. Under the Statute of the Seimas, the speaker can only be removed from office through a non-confidence motion that has to be backed by at least 71 members of the 141-strong parliament.

Nauseda will go to Poland first

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius confirmed this week that president-elect Gitanas Nausėda will keep his word and make his first official visit to Poland on July 16, right after the inauguration. According to Linkevičius, contacts with Lithuania’s other traditional partners will be on the new president’s agenda as well, but other foreign visits have not been arranged yet. On the election night, Nausėda expressed wish to maintain a dialogue with Belarus and slightly change official rhetoric about Russia. Perhaps referring to the latter, Linkevičius said that «there might be tactical changes, nuances, but no strategic changes.»

Final election results confirmed

According the final presidential election count by Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission, 65.68 per cent of Lithuanian voters, or 881,496 people, voted for Nausėda, an independent candidate, on May 26, and 33.04 per cent, or 443,394, voted for MP Šimonytė, the candidate the HU-LCD.

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