Analysts see president’s address as rather critical of Government

President Dalia Grybauskaitė annual State of the Nation Address to the Seimas
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

“This may be a public signal to the Seimas and the government that the honeymoon that lasted for six to seven months, longer than with any other government, is about to end,” Kęstutis Girnius, associate professor at Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute, told BNS.

“And if things are not done the way she wants them to be done or if there is toying like with the education reform, there will be criticism and it will be public,” he said.

In political scientists’ opinion, the president on Thursday focused on internal problems and social issues, putting an emphasis on what is important to the general public, but paying little attention to foreign policy and defense issues.

Professor Mindaugas Jurkynas of Vytautas Magnus University said that the president’s address was more critical of the ruling coalition than most of her previous statements and focused on criticizing the government’s reforms, bans and media restriction initiatives.

Mažvydas Jastramskis of the International Relations and Political Science Institute noted that the ruling parties have until now avoided coming into conflict with Grybauskaitė and sought her approval for their plans.

“I would find it very strange if this address would lead to the ruling majority, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s leadership, going into open conflict with the president. I don’t think that would bring any political benefit to them,” Jastramskis said.

Despite the rebukes and criticism, however, it appears that the “the president is not yet completely disappointed and that something can still be done with this Seimas”, he added.

The political scientists noted that Grybauskaitė criticized populism in Thursday’s address, expressing her support for traditional parties, something she had not done before.

“That line about Lithuania needing a strong party system is something new. As a political scientist, I can thank the president for stressing, at long last, that democracy is impossible without strong parties,” Jastramskis said.

The political scientists also noted that the president paid very little attention to foreign and defense policies.

“I think foreign and defense policies were underemphasized, partly because the president is directly responsible for these areas and she can make crucial decisions there, which she cannot in other areas,” Girnius said.

“I have to admit that most people are not interested in foreign policy,” he added.

Under the Lithuanian Constitution, the president delivers the State of the Nation Address on the situation in the country and its internal and foreign policies to the Seimas once in a year.

Grybauskaitė was elected as president in May 2009 and re-elected for her second five-year term in June 2014.

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