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Lithuanian elections, the second round

by das monde Wed Oct 29th, 2008 at 03:07:04 AM EST

Yesterday was the second round of Lithuanian Seimas elections: 68 (out of 71) individuals seats were still open. In total, the parliament has 141 seats.

The outcome is favourable to the brightest winners of the first round. The Homeland Union/Christian Democrats picked up 26 more seats yesterday, totaling 44. The TV showman Valinskas party added 3 seats, and has 16 seats in total. If you add 11 seats of the Liberal Movement, you get 71 - the minimum majority. This likely coalition will likely be joined by Zuokas' Liberal and Center Union (with 8 seats).

In the following picture, from left to right in front: Artūras Zuokas, Arūnas Valinskas, Andrius Kubilius (Homeland Union) and Gintaras Steponavičius (Liberal Movement)

A table with results is below the fold.

Promoted by afew

The second and third columns give the official results of the party list voting. Compared with the table of 2 weeks ago, the conservative Homeland Union edged 1 more seat (eventually thanks to 36.4% support from voters abroad).

With the total number of seats, I indicate how many seats were won with party listing and today. (The middle number, if present, shows individual seats won immediately.) The run-off projections should be compared to the last summand in the seat column.

PartyVotesPercentageEarlier run-off projections
of valid votesSeats Likely + Toss-up + Underdog
Homeland Union - Christian Democrats 24382319.7244=18+2616+18+11
Social Democrats 14489011.7226=10+2+14 7+12+5
Rising Nation Party (Arūnas Valinskas, LNK TV)18662915.0916=13+3 0+3+6
Order And Justice (Rolandas Paksas) 15677712.6815=11+4 3+8+5
Darbo Partija (Labour Party) 1111498.9910=8+2 1+4+0
Lith. Rep. Liberal Movement (without Zuokas) 708625.7311=5+6 3+3+3
The Liberal and Center Union (with Zuokas) 660785.348=5+3 0+7+3
The Polish minority party 592374.793=0+1+2 2+2+0
Lithuanian Peasant Popular Union (Prunskienė) 461623.733=0+31+4+1
Social Liberals 450613.641=0+11+0+0
Other, and independents1060488.574=0+42+3+2

First round (October 12): Voter participation - 1309965 (48.59%). Non-valid votes - 73239 (5.59%). The 5% barrier (derived from the number of all participating voters) is 65499.

Second round (October 26): Voter participation - 833879 (32.05%). Non-valid votes - 35511 (4,26%).


The conservatives (Homeland Union/Christian Democrats) get their second chance to govern. The same can be said about the liberals (that tried with Paksas in 2000). The liberals may have presented their policies more diligently than other parties. The success of Valinskas' party is remarkable as well, of course. First performances of Valinskas as a public person were rather spicy.

It will be interesting to see, how the conservatives and liberals will do their reforms in these circumstances of failing libertarian ideology. They like to criticize social-democratic governments for their "economic mistakes". But looking back, a more orthodox implementation of liberal reforms would had probably resulted in sharper "overheating".

Were socialdemocrats failed is actually in their protection of "common men" interests. The "LEO LT" project (of a new nuclear plant in Ignalina) greatly exemplified the "pragmatic" orientation towards business interests instead. Persistent success of populist parties manifests significant "request" of genuine socialdemocratic policies, I think. But LSDP does not seem to take its social-democratic mission seriously. Instead, it likes to follow money and demonstrate rather patrimonial governing and deal-breaking.

Social-liberals and the Peasant Popular Union are dropping out of the populist rotation. Their leaders Paulauskas and Prunskienė did not even get into this Seimas. The purpose of populist parties will be more clear after next year's local elections.

So, back to the neoliberal future?...

I read President Adamskus opined in not at all impartial fashion that the 'reforms' the SocDems were unwilling to do for four years should now be started.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:34:43 AM EST
It seems rather sad that just as world events lay more questions on the neoliberal mythos, few of the neoliberals in Central and Eastern Europe seem prepared to question their assumptions.

By anecdote (i.e. people I've known) it seems to me that a lot of the ardent neoliberals are those who had some good resources when the old regime fell. A few of those, the resource was indeed talent, but for more it was education and for more still it was education, plus links with the West and for more still success found a home in those with a bit of talent, a good education, good links with the West and contacts with sources of capital in the West.

Thus, the neoliberals are often not the largest party, or the largest faction in any centre-right coalition, but they are often the most well resourced and like neoliberals everywhere they attribute the success of their peers to "individual virtue" rather than any of the factors I point out. As such they are psychologically bound to economic philosophies which allow "people like them" to prosper. All the more so because the old system so clearly held them back.

I think it's that contrast between the old system and their current prosperity that makes them so certain that it is only restrictions that are a problem...

Also, of course, many of the Central and Eastern European countries specialised in very high powered development of mathematical skills. As a result a certain kind of mathematical mindset is rife, which I have the suspicion is very vulnerable to the claims of modern economics. The equations look very beautiful...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 07:11:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Equation lovers that I know are not among the big winners of financial magic. Surely, they had confidence of knowing better than others, but usually they ran into a setback or two, or their positions are not that exceptional (unless they do an academic job in the West). A critical mass of "freedom" believers is drawn by the narrative. The liberal narrative is strong in Lithuanian, probably strongest by far. Actual losers may be just as enthusiastic.

Erosion of the neo-liberal belief is indeed slow so far. But I know people noticing that the new generation does not really have the same "individual realisation" opportunities. Still, more focus is on observing that people are very unimaginative.

By the way, I am curious how a global recession would tick the emigration balance. Emigration of young people to England, Ireland, Spain, etc is very significant. (That is one of the factors of so low voter participation.) If Western economic crises will push the emigrants back, would they have enough equity to give a boost in Lithuania? Or will they add to social and economic problems?

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:16:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's that contrast between the old system and their current prosperity that makes them so certain that it is only restrictions that are a problem...

Good point. Also, they are shielded from the social consequences of their decisions in their new homes.

However, as for math education, the typical neolib politician here doesn't come from natural sciences. The moneyed tend to come from economic or technical universities, the intellectuals come predominantly from the humanities (and after that from economic and technical and legal universities...).

To further explain these people, also add uncritical West-worship, lack of bottom-up social movements to relate to (the only alternatives they see is heavy-handed or soft-handed state dirigism).

In Lithuania's case, I also wonder about the strength of the influence of emigrees, specifically Americans (with the President among them).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:47:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After the breakdown of the Soviet system, there was only Western model to "worship". Anything that came from there, credit fever and all, had to be accepted as normal and most progressive.

Emigrees did not really have much influence in Lithuania. Adamkus is the only success story. More deserving emigree leaders, such as Kazys Bobelis, were far less successful.

Now an interesting question is how much political success new emgrees could have. The atmosphere looks pretty skeptical against them. Besides, citizenship rules are tight (more so after an interpretation from the Constitutional Court).

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:26:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there was only Western model to "worship".

However, there is no THE Western model. The worship of the West is the worship of a caricature of the West.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Worship is not a necessity, but still, there was a genuine "demand" for models. People want to know how to live well, and the direct way is to follow others (and even more easily, to follow followers). What they picked up was usually a caricature worth.

As for political supply of models, it was "in principle" rather one-sided. All the value must come the West.

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 10:04:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I meant was that our intellectuals could have looked at Swedish social democracy, the German Rhenian capitalism, French dirigism, they could also have looked at the reality of the US economy (there IS a public sector, say in power utilities, etc.) -- but for many, all they saw of the West on the economic front was Freedom of Enterprise.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:05:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it was not just accident... US thinktanks like AEI and Heritage put large amounts of money into lectures and other events for politicians in these newly available countries.

Likewise, US connected figures seem to have had a large effect on the political direction of many of the nations.

And in the end, lest we forget, the propaganda machines, of the press, the think tanks, the MBA schools etc. have been enough to ensure thriving Friedmanite dissident factions in Sweden, Germany and even France. So in countries with new political infrastructures, it should not surprise that there had been even greater neoliberal success.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US thinktanks like AEI and Heritage put large amounts of money into lectures and other events for politicians in these newly available countries.

Yes, various think-tanks and universities other organisations had a role, and contact with the IMF too -- I mean, not just neocon think-tanks active in recent years.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Um Bobelis the 'more deserving' emigre leader?

The guy who a few elections ago tried to smear a candidate for president because that candidate (Lozoraitis) was married to a non-Lithuanian woman?

Lozoraitis had been the Lithuanian Ambassador to the USA, suceeding his father in that post, maintaining an independent Lithuanian essence for the decades of Soviet occupation (the USA never recognised the annexation of Lithuania).  As I recall when Lithuania actually declared renewed independence in 1991  Bobelis tried to 'persuade' Lozoraitis to appoint his son into the Lithuanian diplomatic corps to give him a head start in the resurgent nation. Lozoraitis refused, so a vengeful Bobelis carried out a xenophobic hatchet job a few years later when Lozoraitis ran for the Lithuanian Presidency.

The question of what happened to several million dollars in Lithuanian emigre funds that were 'transferred' from US based Lithuanian emigre associations to non-transparent Lithuanian accounts is an interesting one that I believe has never been clarified. You may wonder why this is a relevant part of this posting but I couldnt possibly comment.

by saugatojas on Thu Oct 30th, 2008 at 02:10:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly speaking, I did not study Lithuanian emigree politics much.  Lozoraitis and Bobelis are the only other their personalities that I could name immediately.

Thank you for posting (and welcome back to ET).

by das monde on Thu Oct 30th, 2008 at 09:28:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With socialdemocrats like this, Lithuania is lucky not to had started neoliberal future earlier, just in time for the Bush crunch. Only this month Kirkilas (the outgoing premier) started to talk that financial crisis should not be sold at the expense of social support to common citizen.

I know, Lithuanian liberals are enthusiastic about Friedmannian policies. (I had met Steponavičius 4 years ago.) This timing of their success is interesting. They should avoid worst microeconomic follies, I think. There is much to learn everyday as the global crisis unfolds. For worse, Lithuania may catch up Latvia in Baltic credit crises (still not very visible, but anticipation is growing). Their first instinct should be to copy American solutions. Social consequences may eventually turn disastrous for the conservative-liberal coalition; but I give a small chance that they could be smarter than LSDP there.

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 07:18:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a question about comment counting on the front page lists.

I often notice that the number of new comments (and the total number of comments) in the "Recent Diaries" list and "Recommended Diaries" list is displayed inconsistently (and surely wrongly somewhere). For example, now I see 4 comments in this diary, but the "Recommended List" promises 8 comments (even if I use a browser where I'm not logged in and do not use TribExt). What's up here?

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:27:29 AM EST
It's a bug that started several weeks ago, and hasn't been fixed yet. Comments somehow get counted twice, so if the number of new comments is exactly half the total number of comments, that means  there is nothing new. It gets annoying when the number of comments is in the hundreds...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:36:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for an answer.
by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lithuania has a very fragmented party system. I note that, even added together, the votes of the three largest groupings do not amount to half the total vote.

Are there any signs of the political system consolidating into a smaller number of significant parties? With western European party systems I find it easier to understand where each political tendency is coming from. Eastern European party systems seem much more fluid.

It may be that it will take a generation of democratic politics for strong party loyalties to develop. This was the experience of West Germany after the second world war. However in the present era party ties seem to be loosening in most long established democracies. Is that a phenomenon which is preventing the formation of large mass parties, with a reliable voter base, in Eastern Europe?

by Gary J on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 08:41:21 AM EST
In Germany, post-WWII parties emerged from Weimar parties. So there were alive traditions.

In post-'communist' countries, failure in government and personal differences or rivalry between prominent party leaders can still destroy a party. If you check das monde's previous election diary, you'll see that the multitude of Lithuanian parties do fall into some major groups, but there were lots of splits.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:10:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The party system looked more consolidated in the 1990s, but there was much dissatisfaction with both conservative and former Communist governments. What happens next, depends a lot of circumstances: How will the economic crisis play out? How will socialdemocrats "rediscover themselves"? What new political figures appear on the horizon?

Existing populist parties need to consolidate to get second chances, I think. Or some may join socialdemocrats.

Some voter loyalty is visible, as core sympathies and antipathies towards the two main parties are well defined. Conservatives typically win with low voter turnout, meaning that they do not really gather much extra support, rahter enough "leftish" voters stay home. On the other turn, Homeland Union probably failed in 2000 for a similar silent reason.

by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:14:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of conservatives, what is their platform outside of the economy, beyond the only think one gets to hear in the international press (being unfriendly to Russia)? I read somewhere that "protection of the traditional family" was a campaign theme, but without any details.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:44:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Their program is 5.2Mb large (230 pages). I wish I could use an English version :-)

Among problems of Lithuania, they point out to:

  • nation erosion: weakening family; low fertility; high emigration; rising economic need for immigration; (rural quality of life to be improved);
  • much physical violence, little security and value to human life (alcohol consumption to be further restricted);
  • economic short-sight: the recent good times were not used to foster future competitiveness; stagnation should be avoided; long period of high growth and foreign investments are needed (say, like in Ireland);
  • GDP slowdown; high inflation; high energy prices; high social differentiation;
  • state passivity: no strategic aims; no involvement of citizen;
  • lack of respect of citizen by the state, and vice versa;
  • irresponsible, corrupt, unjust governing (they promise a "state reconstruction");
  • low quality services, bureucrasy; (education, health care, culture reforms away from Soviet "inheritance").
by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 10:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
das monde:
GDP slowdown; high inflation; high energy prices; high social differentiation;

Am I misinterpreting, or is this a partial sign of the failure of the centre-left to address inequalities?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 11:43:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Socialdemocrats may have protected Social Security institutions fine, but overall social dynamics was left to Invisible Hand and other gods.
by das monde on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There were 4 very close races in the second round. By the law, all votes should be recounted if the mandate is decided by less than 50 votes.

One of the four recounts indicates other winner in one Vilnius district. Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (a popular minister of Social Security and Labour) was leading by 32 votes (5897 vs 5865) against a conservative Audronius Ažubalis, but is behind by 56 votes after a recount. The case is under investigation, from attorneys as well. Blinkevičiūtė would get to Seimas anyway, but Homeland Union and LSDP seats would be adjusted to 45 and 25, respectively. (Blinkevičiūtė is considered the most realistic socialdemocratic candidate in the Presidential election next year.)

by das monde on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 06:53:45 AM EST

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