Lately, we no longer gear arguments amongst Lithuanian political parties over larger strategic questions: they agree on energy, defence, they don’t argue over the new Labour Code.
Political scientist Mažvydas Jastramskis didn’t criticize these tendencies: a division of strategic state on development projects, which are necessary, would be negative. At the same time, political scientist Algis Krupavičius says that there should be a difference between the parties on socio-economic issues, otherwise the people will walk away from Lithuania that is sinking into social exclusion and inequality.
M. Jastramskis, who is a professor at Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science (IIRPS), said that there is basis for the impression that the parties don’t argue anymore over strategic questions.
“Until now, the ideological structuration of our society ideological was poor: people didn’t see clear differences amongst the parties and did not put themselves into an ideological box. However, there was one thing, which showed the difference between the parties: it’s the geopolitical orientation and particularly the relationship with Russia.
In the study of 2012 Parliament elections we saw that people see the Labour Party as one with clear statements for pragmatic relations with Russia and, for example, the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) clearly state that Russia is a threat. The view of the parties seemed quite similar during the latest elections. People consider TS-LKD a party that sees Russia as a threat and all other parties’ views on Russia don’t seem different” said M. Jastramskis.
A. Krupavičius: the Labour Code should have caused an argument
A. Krupavičius, who is a dean at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) Faculty of Social Sciences and a political scientist, remembers the situations of LEO LT, “Williams” or the Visaginas nuclear power plant project. However, according to him it’s difficult to compare to the issues with the current ones.
“The cases were different. For example, LEO LT was a project for one particular interest group and business groups have been very dissatisfied. One of the current examples could be the reform of higher education. The neo-liberal high school centralization project, whose axis is held by the estate management of higher institutions of higher, then it’s a kind of creation of companies that manage university’s real. I think that leftist parties should not agree to this.
There was no argument in regards to the Labour Code because the Social Democrats did not take the left position when the Labour Code was being prepared. They chose the neoliberal version of employment relationship, and we have what we have. Now they are trying to go back and especially new leader is opposing, therefore there might be changes in the Parliament may the Labour Code if the Social Democrats decide to return to the leftist values and will try to meet the expectations of their electorate” said A. Krupavičius.
Lithuanians will walk away if no one will support the weaker ones
According to A. Krupavičius, the fact that there are no arguments amongst the parties on socio-economic issues, is a negative trend for the country.
“We have one of the largest indexes of social exclusion and inequality in Europe, society is divided and the consequence of social inequality are: a massive emigration, which is not stopping even during economic growth. It is obvious that the socio-economic life of Lithuania is abnormal.
The problem is that there are no political parties that would consistently protect socially vulnerable and weaker groups. In this view, the State of Lithuania and its policy is in a dramatic situation. It shouldn’t be happening in a civilized European country “said A. Krupavičius.
According to the professor, the defence of weaker social groups in Lithuania has become important only during election campaigns and the new Government didn’t bring any changes.
“I do not want to be a messenger with bad news but looking at the current Government it’s clear that it’s going at the same neo-liberal path, makes all decisions and proposes reforms according to that. This means that we’ll still have social deformations and if this continues, then people will quickly leave the country” said A. Krupavičius.
We shouldn’t look for differences amongst parties on some questions
According to M. Jastramskis, one of the reasons why we can’t see clear differences between the parties on strategic issues is that strategic objects aren’t being considered.
“There will always be arguments and interests about a strategic object or project and maybe the current situation isn’t bad because it means that there are no things on to argue about, which determines our orientation towards the West.
I don’t see a major problem here. In general, the divide in the case of objects is necessary for the state’s strategic development, I don’t think that it’s good “says M. Jastramskis.
A. Krupavičius also thinks that some of the questions we shouldn’t look for differences in the parties in regards to some areas.
“For example, all the main Lithuanian parties are pro-European, there haven’t been any serious ideological areas in Lithuania’s foreign policy for the last 25 years. Maybe we don’t need to look for them there because the situation will be similar in many countries, especially smaller ones” said A. Krupavičius.