A potential advantage of Skvernelis’: the key question – Kaunas

Saulius Skvernelis
Saulius Skvernelis DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

With ex-Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis announcing on October 18 plans to form a new party, representatives of political powers in Seimas make no efforts to hide that their own comrades have received offers to get on board. However, there are musings that S. Skvernelis’ true advantage does not even lie in national politics, lrytas.lt reported.

R. Paleckis: the key question is Kaunas

Lietuvos Rytas TV show host Rimvydas Paleckis mused during a Žinių Radijas broadcast that S. Skvernelis’ new party would find its electorate despite how there are several political entities with positions held on the left.

R. Paleckis is certain that, while voting, the average Lithuanian voter acts not based on party programmes but takes into account party leaders.

“The examples of the Social Democrats, the Labour Party, the Conservatives all showcased how given a leader spearheading the list, the party proceeds. As for who wrote what sort of programme – that’s secondary.

It is clear that Saulius Skvernelis is one of the most popular leaders in Lithuania, vastly more popular than Ramūnas Karbauskis. It’s probably evident that the “Farmers” will continue losing their popularity, I would guess that they might bottom out at some 6-7%,” the journalist predicted.

However, he emphasises that S. Skvernelis’ party will need a base to establish itself on. According to R. Paleckis’ sources, S. Skvernelis and company are actively working alongside electoral committees, calling on them to join.

“It was committees that won the municipal elections in many cities or at least they performed well. There’s Druskininkai, other cities. Rima Baškienė is actively working in Šiauliai, Vytautas Bakas, Tomas Tomilinas – in their own districts.

The key question is Kaunas, where to will Kaunas turn. Will Visvaldas Matijošaitis’ electoral committee cast its lot in with this party? This would prove to be a significant boost for it. If not, anything could still happen, but I am confident that the party will be founded and we will have a fairly powerful player vying for the top three in party popularity,” R. Paleckis noted.

R. Urbonaitė: a boomerang rebounds at the “Farmers”

Mykolas Romeris University political scientist Rima Urbonaitė pointed out during the show that, “The creation of a new political entity will mean that this entity could aim for not insubstantial state budget funding, as well as significant financing cuts for the “Farmer” party. This could also be an emotional boost for those who departed or to put it more accurately – were ejected from the current group”, as well as former members of the “Farmer” group.

In a sense, it will be a boomerang rebounding at the “Farmers”, given how, some time ago, they exerted great efforts to ensure they secure these funds for Social Democrat Labour. Now they will experience themselves what this means.”

The political scientist was also optimistic regarding the prospects for S. Skvernelis’ new party.

“The novelty effect could prove to be a positive in the sense that Lithuanians like new political entities regardless of them containing old faces,” R. Urbonaitė explained.

Plans announced

In October 18, the members of Seimas, who previously departed the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS), announced they were due to establish the Democratic Party “In the Name of Lithuania”.

All three of the members of the Seimas group under the same title signed the call to join the party: former Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Vytautas Bakas, Rima Baškienė, Algirdas Butkevičius, Domas Griškevičius, Linas Kukuraitis, Rūta Miliūtė, Laima Mogenienė, Laima Nagienė, Lukas Savickas, Algirdas Stončaitis, Zenonas Streikus and Tomas Tomilinas.

S. Skvernelis has stated that the new political power will be targeting centre-left voters and will be a proponent of the nation-state.

“There are sufficiently many political powers declaring left-wing views. We are primarily aimed at socio-economic policy in this regard. In terms of our value foundation, the state, the core attributes of statehood, elements of the Constitution, we are truly of national outlook and proponents of the nation-state,” S. Skvernelis said.

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