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Lithuanian political scene heats up as presidential elections approach

Ramunas Karbauskis [Wikipedia]

By Angele Kedatiene

The chairperson of the ruling Greens and Peasantries Union Ramunas Karbauskis has stated that he would withdraw from the ruling coalition right after the Presidential and European Parliament election, if his political party loose them, what would hopefully mean early parliamentary elections in autumn.

According to political analysts, this statement aims at attracting more electorate for the Greens and Peasantries Union. Following an opinion polls of 20-29 April, just 44% of Lithuanians already know which Presidential candidate they will vote for in the forthcoming Presidential elections of 12 May. Others, the larger part, could make the decision in very last days or the same day of elections, what provides for political uncertainty.

According to the opinion pool, Gitanas Nauseda, the independent candidate, and Ingrida Simonyte from Homeland Union/Lithuanian conservatives would take approximately equal share of votes, around 24-26%, while the Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, representing Greens and Peasantries Union – around 16%.

The electorates of these candidates are rather different. While Simonyte targets the educated, higher income urban electorate, that of Skvernelis lives in the countryside. The electorate of Nauseda is both, what is his strength, but also the weakness.

According to Karbauskis, a defeat of Skvernelis would mean return of the influence of Vytautas Landsbergis, the Chairman of first independent Lithuanian Parliament, former Chairman of Lithuanian conservatives, former MEP, recently back from retirement. The political influence of Landsbergis, gained over his undeniable merits for Lithuanian independence, has somehow been eroded from a certain power abuse, in political influence over rule of law and legal system in general. It is widely known that he is used to call prosecutors and judges, giving them orders in legal cases to hit at his political opponents.

According to Karbauskis, during the last years, Lithuania has established the system, similar to other post-soviet countries, when with the agreement of top politicians; it was possible to steal from the state and to persecute those who disagree. He said he had realised that even prosecutors were forced to comply with this.

According to data of the European Commission on state of justice in the European Union, released at the end of April, the processing of legal cases in Lithuania are fast, however the quality of work is insufficient, and the courts lack financing and independence. Lithuanian citizens think that the influence of politics over the rule of law is huge and is increasing. Recently Lithuania was shaken by the large case of corruption at the courts.

Meanwhile, Landsbergis himself, who truly faces controversial opponents and media attacks in Lithuania, is known for his no-comments approach.  In his two recent articles published with the Delfi website, he criticises the two referendums to take place on 12 of May, while stating that he was going to abstain from vote in the dual citizenship referendum, as he calls it it badly formulated and prepared. He has also once again expressed his anti-Russian views while urging Western countries to learn to live without Russia. Nevertheless, in the same article he criticises the East-West division, while stating that it is the product of more than 100 years of propaganda, presumably Russian.

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