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Lithuania - General Elections

Victory for the opposition in the Lithuanian general elections

Victory for the opposition in the Lithuanian general elections

27/10/2008 - Results - 2nd round

After the second round of voting in the general elections that took place on 26th October, the Homeland Union-Conservatives (TS-LK) won the greatest number of seats in the Seimas, the only Chamber in the Lithuanian Parliament. The country has a mixed voting system. 71 MPs are appointed by a majority system in two rounds and the other 70 are elected by proportional representation (they were elected on 12th October last). During the second round the Lithuanians had to appoint 68 of their MPs by majority voting. 131 candidates representing 12 political parties and five independents were running.

The main opposition party led by Andrius Kubilius, who came out ahead in the first round of the election on 12th October won 26 more seats, ie a total of 44 seats (out of the 141 in Parliament). The Social Democratic Party (LSP), led by outgoing Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas is the main loser in these, the first general elections since Lithuania's entry into the EU in 2004. He did however win 14 seats during the second round (25 in all).

The Liberal Union-Centre Union (LLC-LSC), member of the outgoing government coalition led by Arturas Zuokas won 6 seats. For Order and Justice (TT), the populist party of former President of the Republic (2003-2004), Rolandas Paksas won three seats as did the Lithuanian Peasant Popular Union (LVLS) led by Kazimiera Danute Prunskiene. The Labour Party (DP), a leftwing populist party created in 2003 by Russian billionaire Viktor Ouspaskitch won 2 seats, Polish Electoral Action (LLRA) led by Waldemar Tomaszewski and representing the Polish minority in Lithuania - 2 seats and finally the New Union-Social Liberal Party (NS-SL) founded in 1998 by Environment Minister Arturas Paulauskas, 1. Parliament will also include 4 independent MPs.
Turn out was much lower than that recorded during the first round rising to 32.31% (- 15.80 points).

"This is an unquestionable victory," declared the Homeland Union-Conservative leader Andrius Kubilius on the announcement of the first results. "We have an excellent opportunity here to form a government that will work for change. I have my personal experience to count on since 1999 – Andrius Kubilius was Prime Minister for the last year of the Homeland Union-Conservative mandate (1996-2000). "At the time we had to face a crisis and the new government will be of a similar nature," he added.

With 44 seats, the Homeland Union-Conservatives is however far from having the majority in Parliament. The party started negotiations with the National Revival Party and the Liberal Union-Centre Union between the two rounds. "We have many things in common and we can see opportunities to work together. There is a political will and on Monday we shall start political negotiations," declared Andrius Kubilius who insisted on saying, "One of the main changes is that the Social Democrats will be absent from the new coalition."
The new National Revival Party – qualified as "a show-bizz" party because of the dozen singers, actors, musicians or TV stars who joined it – is led by the producer of a TV reality show and presenter of the Lithuanian equivalent of "Who wants to win Millions?" Arunas Valinskas was the source of surprise during the first round of elections on 12th October coming second and taking 13 seats in the Seimas. "Our strength lies in our desire for change. Belonging to the world of show bizz is an advantage since we know how to speak to the people," said Arunas Valinskas.

"I believe our values, our analysis of the situation and the reforms we want to undertake are close to those of the Homeland Union-Conservatives and we can also work with parties from the centre," declared the leader of the National Revival Party indicating: "TV is not everything or a goal for me, I have often said this." "The National Revival Party has neither ideology nor programme which leaves it totally free to join any political camp," indicates the political science professor, Alvidas Lukosaitis at the University of Vilnius.

The Homeland Union-Conservatives may also join forces with the Liberal Movement which won 5 seats in the Seimas during the first round of the election on 12th October. Andrius Kubilius has already announced that his party wants to take care of the Finance, Economy, Defence and Foreign Affairs portfolios.

But the Social-Democrat leader Gediminas Kirkilas, has still not acknowledged his defeat and has declared that in his opinion the rainbow coalition (rallying his party and the Homeland Union-Conservatives) is the best solution. "We are ready to hold talks with all parties. All types of coalitions can be envisaged," declared the outgoing Prime Minister who was quick to draw closer to the populist parties (For Order and Justice, the Labour Party or the National Resurrection Party) indicating that he wants more "social justice" whilst his rivals on the right aim to make Lithuanians bear the weight of the economic crisis.

Andrius Kubilius announced that he intended to reduce income tax and to increase public spending whilst ensuring that the budgetary deficit did not rise above 3% of the GDP established by the EU. Apart from wanting to undertake reforms the lack of which is one of the main accusations made against the outgoing Social Democratic government, the Homeland Union-Conservatives are campaigning on the upkeep of family values. Some of its members want, for example, to prohibit abortion entirely. Moral rigour may create tension within the future government coalition.

"We are facing a major crisis and what we have inherited from the previous government will comprise a serious challenge for those who are going to lead the country," declared the conservative leader. "The next government will not find things easy. We know this and we are ready to face the challenge. We shall set to work quickly to define a plan that will take into account the challenges of the economic and financial crisis that is pending," added Andrius Kubilius.
Many analysts believe that the conservative leader may appoint a provisional government. This will be obliged to resign in six months after the election of the new President of the Republic (planned for May 2009) in which the present Head of State Valdas Adamkus will not be running. It goes without saying that Lithuania already entered into a new electoral campaign as soon as the second round of results was announced.
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
Other stages
2nd roundResults