Breakaway SocDems spreading message to Europe about “radical left” emerging in Lithuania

Gediminas Kirkilas and Juozas Bernatonis
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Titled as a Brief Overview of Challenges Facing Social Democracy in Lithuania, the English-language letter criticizes Paluckas as an individual who “views his interests above those of the state and the people of Lithuania”, and the “left-wing radicals”, according to the letter, “ardently seek to destroy the current governance, spread absolute criticism and fuel social hostility.” The letter suggests that the breakaway group and the new party would be more moderate, defending “interests of the people and the state”, supporting economic and social stability and “centre-left domination.”

The two authors of the letter, Kirkilas and Bernatonis, hold high posts in the Lithuanian parliament – Kirkilas serves as deputy parliamentary speaker and heads the European Affairs Committee, while Bernatonis is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Kirkilas told BNS that the letter had so far been handed to Sweden’s Parliamentary Speaker Urban Ahlin who was in Lithuania earlier this week, however, would shortly be forwarded to politicians and ambassadors of other countries to update them on the situation in Lithuania’s left wing.

“We are founding a new party, we stated our position and differences in an earlier article by Juozas Bernatonis, to notify our possible partners who will support the establishment of the party. He (Ahlin) asked about the reasons of the party’s split, and we gave him our position,” he told BNS.

Kirkilas said the position had not yet been sent to the European Social Party but would be forwarded after founding the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDDP) with his colleagues. The European Social Party is the second-largest political force in the European Parliament and includes the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, while the politicians headed by Kirkilas and Bernatonis will also aim to join the political force.

“There will be a number of meetings next week. The Romanian ambassador is coming and I think he will ask, as this is a relevant topic for him, I have a few other ambassadors – the embassies of Germany and Poland are interested. I am also going to Tallinn on Saturday for a meeting of the COSAC ( Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union ). I am convinced I will speak to many there. I am part of the Social group there and I believe I will have to tell about what happened in Lithuania,” said Kirkilas.

Paluckas, the LSDP leader, dismissed the move as an attempt of his former colleagues “to get attention” – in his words, the LSDP notified all international structures and international Social Democratic organizations about the split of the group.

“LSDP is the true member of the European Social Party and the Socialist International Organization and will continue to be there. We have cleared things out with all European structures, therefore, there’s nothing to comment about – this is an attempt to get attention,” Paluckas told BNS.

Ten members of the Social Democratic political group left the LSDP in October after the party’s ethics watchdog recommended expelling them from the party for disobeying the party’s decision to leave the ruling coalition with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union. They announced plans to establish the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party, with the constituent assembly scheduled for the end of February.

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