The second stage of the parliamentary elections in Lithuania ended on October 25 (the first took place on October 11), as a result of which a new Seimas will be finally formed.
As expected, the main confrontation unfolded between the current ruling party, the Union of Peasants and Greens of Lithuania (Lietuvos valstiečių ir žaliųjų sąjunga, LVŽS), and the opposition force, the Union of the Fatherland - Lithuanian Christian Democrats .
Speaking of Lithuanian politics, it is worth remembering that no pro-Russian forces can be found among the country's leading parties.
However, the current government, primarily the Union of Peasants and Greens of Lithuania, has been known for trying to establish relations with Russia, while the opposition is prone to tougher opposition to the Kremlin.
And it is the opposition that has a chance to form a new government.
The pandemic has left its mark on the election race.
Although the total number of Lithuanians infected with COVID-19 does not yet exceed 10,000, and the mortality rate is one of the lowest in the EU, Lithuanians are concerned about the economic downturn (4% GDP decline in the second quarter of this year) and a rapid rise in unemployment.
The coronavirus also affected the election process itself.
One of the innovations was early voting, which lasted several days in a row until the main date, both before the first and before the second round of elections. A similar decision was made in order to avoid overcrowding at polling stations.
Another innovation is the creation of a special drive-in section, where everyone could cast their vote without leaving their own car.
The authorities also had to create appropriate conditions for those who wanted to exercise their right to express their will but were in isolation or suffering from coronavirus during the election.
Thus, 47.5% of voters took part in the first round of elections, which is 3% less than last time (in the second round the turnout is traditionally lower).
Thus, this suggests that the coronary crisis as such, the associated constraints and the existing shortcomings of the existing national health care system have had a less significant impact on the electoral behavior of the average Lithuanian citizen than expected.
Former, present and young
According to the preliminary results of the parliamentary elections in Lithuania, the first place and 50 seats out of 141 will be won by the center-right from the "Union of the Fatherland".
This party, which has been in opposition for the past four years, has always had high support in the country, but at the same time a high level of distrust. Because of the latter, for example, the winner of last year's presidential election, Gitanas Nauseda, refused to run for the party and went self-nominated.
To attract new voters, the party has focused on education and health care reform, as well as market economy transformation with a focus on the development of "green technologies".
By electing the leader of the young leader Gabrielius Landsbergis (grandson of the first "post-Soviet" head of state Vytautas Lansbergis), the Union of the Fatherland aimed to "rebrand" its political force, aimed at attracting the youth electorate and reducing pressure on traditional social issues. the agenda of right-wing parties (permission to have abortions, attitudes towards the LGBT community, etc.).
In second place - the Union of Peasants and Greens of Lithuania, which has been in power since 2016 - this party will receive 32 seats. Admittedly, the current crisis caused by the COVID pandemic has hit the party hard.
The coronary crisis overshadowed previous achievements such as raising the minimum wage, pensions and social benefits.
The creation of a favorable business environment for farmers, accompanied by tax cuts, has often been criticized by the opposition for its alleged underfunding of the public sector.
In contrast, the media stressed that the head of the Union of Peasants and Greens of Lithuania, Ramunas Karbauskis, was on the list of the richest parliamentarians, and questioned the extent to which the party's leading candidate and prime minister, Saulius Skvernalis, was independent.
The next largest factions will receive the Liberal Movement (13); Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (13); Freedom Party (11) and Labor Party (10). The election campaign of Poles in Lithuania - the Union of Christian Families (the only political force in the country that advocates theses convenient for Russia), as well as the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labor Party - will receive three more seats. The Freedom and Justice Party and the Lithuanian Green Union will receive one mandate each. Finally, self-nominated candidates should receive four seats.
Of these political forces, the opening of the current elections, the Freedom Party, which was founded a little over a year ago, should be described separately. The main message of the party led by Auschrine Armonaite was to emphasize the importance of higher education, the rights of the LGBT community, e-government and carbon neutrality.
The popularity of the party mainly among young people indicates the formation of a social demand on such topics, which will gradually be incorporated into the political discourse of the country.
As none of the parties that entered the Seimas won an absolute majority, this means that they will have to start negotiations on forming a coalition in any case.
According to the Lithuanian news agency LRT, the leaders of the Union of the Fatherland - Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party after a meeting on Monday night adopted a joint declaration of intent to form a government led by Ingrida Šimonite.
The efficiency of such a decision speaks of the predictability of the results obtained by the parties and indicates their firm intention to move to the distribution of functions and positions as soon as possible.
Former Finance Minister Ingrida Shimonite, who ran for president last year and went to the second round, is currently being named as a key candidate for prime minister. Note that her confrontation in the 2019 elections with the current president was extremely correct - after the victory, Gitanas Nauseda called his rival a like-minded person, expressing hope that they will be able to work together.
Now this wish has every chance to come true.
A change of government in Lithuania could give a boost to relations with Ukraine.
Suffice it to say that the head of the Union of the Fatherland was former Prime Minister Andrews Kubilius, one of Ukraine's biggest lobbyists in the EU, who was a member of the parliamentary cooperation group with Ukraine and initiated a forum in the European Parliament to support Eastern Partnership.
This means that Vilnius' foreign policy will go back to the days of Dalia Grybauskaitė - uncompromising support for Ukraine and harsh criticism of Russia's actions.
Author: Olga Rusova,
Candidate of Political Science, Leading Specialist
Gennady Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine
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