by das monde
Mon Oct 15th, 2012 at 04:27:24 AM EST
Lithuania [elected] a new parliament (Seimas) [yesterday]. 70 members are elected in a proportional party voting (with 5% barrier), and 71 members are elected in local constituencies (with runoff voting 2 weeks later, in districts where no one got 50% of votes).
The election 4 years ago produced a shaky-looking coalition of the serious Homeland Union (the conservatives and Christian-democrats), two liberal parties, and a new populist Rising Nation party of a TV star. The populist party disintegrated after one year; it was swallowed mostly by the Center-liberal party. The coalition survived the whole term however, despite shifts in the coalition, the economic crisis, boosted emigration, austerity measures, and such joys.
frontpaged with minor edits, results in comments - Nomad
This stability says perhaps a lot about the opposition. The Social-democrats gladly engaged in Seimas discussions, but generally, they looked satisfied with the status quo. They still do not show clear dissatisfaction with the ongoing economy, nor articulate own alternatives. They must be just waiting for a swing of the political pendulum their way.
The other opposition force is Darbo Partija (Labour party), led by a formerly successful Russian entrepreneur V. Uspaskichas. They had tasted government work in 2004-2008, and generally, would be considered seriously for many coalitions. They might even gain more votes than the Social-democrats. The political establishment would hardly accept the leader Uspaskichas, however. Darbo Partija has more promises for left-leaning voters. On the other hand, this party saved the coalition in two crucial votings: in 2009 when the Rising Nation was collapsing, and early this year when Center-liberals tried to blackmail a new FSA appointment.
The government led by Andrius Kubilius is pretty unopposed in seriousness gravitas and boosting about 3 years of nominal GDP growth (after the 20% collapse in 2008-2009, of course). The conservative success this year should be as unlikely as Romney's - but you never know with the opposition performance. The Liberal Union proved to be the most earnest partners in the Kubilius government, pushing for reforms (say, in education) even if detrimental effects were clear. The president D. Grybauskaite expressed indirect support for the conservatives and liberals by criticizing the Social-democrats, Darbo and populist parties.
The Center-liberals look marginal by now. Their brightest star Arturas Zuokas (an Ig Nobel prize winner) was not looking for background roles and left Seimas quickly. He is now the Mayor of Vilnius again, though less successfully and prominently under new financial constraints. Zuokas has now his own party "Taip" ( "Yes").
In total, there are over 20 political parties participating. Probably only few of them will get into Seimas. The Lithuanian electorate has shown little loyalty to political parties and ideologies. It is painted by the media as forever looking for new saviors, unhappily.
The most colorful (purple) of new populist parties is "Drąsos Kelias" ("The way of braveness"). It emerged after these dramatic events. The "Order and Justice" party of the impeached president R. Paksas may still get several Seimas seats, but they would hardly be accepted into a coalition. Paksas himself cannot be in Seimas yet, though he is a member of the European Parliament. Most public contempt goes to the Marxist "frontman" Algirdas Paleckis, after he expressed his interpretation about the January 1991 events. During televised debates this month, his colleague said that Vytautas Landsbergis was criminally polarizing and provoked the January 1991 events. After that, a member of "Drąsos Kelias" threw a glass with water towards him (a video down here).
Additionally, Lithuanians will vote on a new Visaginas atomic plant project this Sunday as well. The plant would be built by Hitachi Co next to the location of the RBMK plant closed in 2009, using private capital. But that does not really promise cheaper electricity for the country.