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Lithuania - General Elections

Surprise victory by the rightwing opposition in the second round of the general elections

Surprise victory by the rightwing opposition in the second round of the general elections

24/10/2004 - Results - 2nd round

After the second round of the Lithuanian general elections, the coalition of the two rightwing parties, the Pro Patria-Conservative Union (TS-LK) and the Liberal Union-Central Union (LCC-LSC) won 43 of the 141 seats in the Seimas (the Lithuanian Parliament), asserting itself as the country's leading political force. The Pro-Patria-Conservative Union increased the number of seats it won in the first round by fourteen, the Liberal Union-Central Union, improved its score by eleven.

The Labour Party (DP), led by Viktor Ouspaskitch, the major winner of the first round of these general elections (22 seats), won 39 seats and asserts himself as the leading party in the Seimas; he recorded the highest increase in seats between the two rounds out of all of the parties running in the election (+ 17 seats). "We are still able to fight for the absolute majority in Parliament and for the position of Prime Minister. We are going to dedicate all of our time and energy to achieving this objective," maintained the populist leader just before the second round. This was an objective that the Labour Party did not manage to achieve however; since it is completely isolated in the political arena and has no support from any other party, it will not be able to take part in the future government.

The Coalition "We are working for Lithuania", created by the Social-Democrat Party (LSDP) and the Social Liberal Party (SL) won 31 seats, that is, fifteen more than in the first round. The Coalition "For order and justice" created by the former President of the Republic, who was recently deposed, Rolandas Paksas (Liberal Democrat Party) won 10 seats (+1 in comparison with 10 October last). Finally the Farmers' Party-New Democracy Party (LVP-NDP) led by Kazimiera Danute Prunskiene, will have 10 representatives in the new Parliament.

The participation rate was particularly low in the second round when only four voters in ten turned out to vote (40%), i.e. 3.29 points more than during the first round on 10 October. 8.06% of the electorate chose to vote by post, hence establishing a new record for this type of method of voting. We should remember that 7.6% of Lithuanians voted like this in the first round.

"My intuition tells me that a coalition with the Labour Party will not be possible. We have already started negotiations with the parties on the right," declared outgoing Prime Minister Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas the day after the election. "A large coalition will be possible" maintained, for his part, the leader of the Pro-Patria Union-Conservatives (TS-LK), intimating that he was prepared to talk with the Social Democrat parties. Until the day before the second round of the election, Andrius Kubilus, who had suggested that his party support the social democrats in those constituencies where they were fighting Labour Party candidates, did however say that he was reticent about forming any coalition with the ruling leftwing saying that his party would only enter government if it could "represent rightwing values." "It is possible that a major coalition will be formed but we shall not give up our values during these negotiations," declared Andrius Kubilus on 25 October. He then added, "it is obvious that the parties on the right won the elections and they will be first in line to create a new coalition."

The fear that Lithuania would be led by a man with close links to Russia therefore led the parties, who were afraid of any possible influence on the part of Moscow in the Baltic Republic, to try and smooth over their differences presenting a common front to find an agreement thereby enabling them to form an obstacle in the way of the leader of the populist movement.

The appointment of the future Prime Minister will not however be an easy task, since Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas, supported by the President of the Seimas, Arturas Paulauskas, has said on several occasions that he is determined to retain his position. The President of the Republic, Valdas Adamkus, has also declared his support of the outgoing Prime Minister. "The government that was led by Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas has not suffered a heavy sanction, they have proved themselves and I see no reason why they cannot continue if they win the Lithuanian people's mandate," he declared. Valdas Adamkus previously announced that he did not intend to appoint Viktor Ouspaskitch as head of government except if he made a landslide victory in the second round. We should remember that an opinion poll undertaken mid-October by Baltijos Tyrimai indicated that two thirds of Lithuanians (66%) wanted the Social Democrats to be ousted from power. This survey also revealed that around one quarter of rightwing sympathisers (23% in favour of the Liberal Union-Central Union and 22% for the Pro-Patria Union-Conservatives) were however in favour of the upkeep of the outgoing government. On Monday Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas suggested a minority government comprising the Social Democrat Party, Social Liberal Party and Liberal-Central Union.

Viktor Ouspaskitch no longer seems to believe in the possibility of his party being included in the new government. "We shall not cease to exist as we sit on the opposition bench," he declared on Sunday evening. On Monday 25 October the populist leader signed an agreement with Kazimiera Danute Prunskiene, president of the Farmers' Party and New Democracy Party with the aim of forming a major parliamentary group that lies in the centre of the political scale. Both leaders invited other parties, especially the Liberal Union-Central Union to join them. Kazimiera Danute Prunskiene qualified a possible rainbow coalition "as politically abnormal." In her opinion a coalition can only be established between parties that share the same programmes; "A coalition must be logical from a political point of view. A rainbow coalition would simply destroy the electorates political references such as the idea of the lef and the right," she pointed out.

A rainbow coalition leading Lithuania would not be entirely be an novelty within the EU. Both Finland and Estonia are governed by coalitions that bring together the Liberals of the Centre Party (KESK) and the Social Democrat Party (SDP) in Finland and three parties (Res Publica, the Reform Party (ER) and the Pro Patria Union I) in Estonia. Until 2003, Belgium also had a rainbow government allying the Reform Movement (MR), the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD), the Walloon Socialist Party (PS), the Flemish Socialist Party (SP.A) and finally the ecologists from Ecolo (Walloons) and Agalev (Flemish).

President of the Republic, Valdas Adamkus, requested the new Lithuanian Parliament, that will meet on 10 November, to "turn to the people" and to "be more focused on domestic issues,". The Seimas will then have two weeks to give its opinion about the government that will be proposed by the President.

Results of the 2nd Round of the General Elections on 24 October 2004/Lithuania

Participation rate: 40%

Source Lithuanian Electoral Commission
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
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