Due to clashes with party leadership, member of Seimas Rimantas Jonas Dagys left the Conservative party and its Seimas group this year. Now, alongside likeminded people, he is assembling a new political movement. At least publicly, it is declared that it will better represent Christian and conservative values than the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) do now, Rasuolė Bauraitė wrote in lrytas.lt
This was discussed on the Lietuvos Rytas television show Lietuva Tiesiogiai, where Mindaugas Vasiliauskas spoke with one of the new party’s founders R. Dagys and Lietuvos Rytas analyst Vytautas Bruveris.
R. J. Dagys emphasises that he was expelled from the Conservative party due to his Christian views and criticisms of how they were not adhering to the party programme. In terms of what unites his group now, he describes it as a “need for a consistent representation of Christian values.” Other than Christian values, he points out national values as another focal point.
The parliamentarian, however, downplays his role in the newly forming entity, describing himself as more of someone assisting the party with gathering. He notes that its members will represent a very broad spectrum, ranging from members of the academic community to doctors, political scientists and philosophers.
R. J. Dagys admits that there are current and former members of the TS-LKD, who are due to join his party’s ranks, but remarks that the process of making the decision and holding discussions likely to take time.
Current and former Conservatives to join the new party
V. Bruveris believes that there are two factors that propelled the idea of this party into existence. One group of reasons is that according to him, the largest right-wing political power [the TS-LKD] has long been obviously faced with an internal ideological identity conflict. It is a confrontation of individuals, who view themselves as the real representatives of right-wing and conservative values and those, who view themselves as more liberal, but no less conservative. This clash particularly emerged with G. Landsbergis taking party leadership and there being a rejuvenation of the party.
“In a sense, it was clear it was just a matter of time when this conflict would particularly escalate, reach a certain final stretch,” V. Bruveris noted, adding that the internal conflict has not been resolved despite R. J. Dagys’ departure from the party. Furthermore, the analyst believes that the MP was removed with electoral and pragmatic concerns in mind – to not hamper the party in preparations for the Seimas elections, particularly to not hamper Ingrida Šimonytė, who is being positioned as the party’s front runner. Apparently, the party leadership unofficially broadcast that he unofficially even hampered and harmed Ingrida Šimonytė’s presidential bid.
The analyst also notes that there is a trend of aiming for a part of society, which is inclined to isolationism, open xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism, all under the cover of euphemisms such as Christian values and real conservatism.
Matter of time until we get our AfD
“If we are to take specific examples and parallels, there is the German party Alternative for Germany [AfD]. I have always been of the mind that it is a matter of time before we have something similar in Lithuania. So, these people are aiming for this “trend”.
In part successfully, there is demand for it among a certain part of the public. Just talking about future prognoses, Lithuania is somewhat exceptional in this regard because this part of the public and the demand is not very big. Perhaps it is a matter of time before it increases, but in this case, we are certainly no Germany, nor United States of America or Great Britain,” V. Bruveris says.
R. J. Dagys rejects there were any similarities with his party and what V. Bruveris described. Instead, he says that similarities can be rather found with the Polish Christian front, but certainly without any closed-off approach, xenophobia or such.
“In regard to Christian values, in our society, in declarations there is a sort of confusion. There are certain red lines from which you can no longer talk about Christianity. For example, attitudes to family and life – these are fundamental matters for any Christian.
Moderate or not, it matters not. If you do not recognise the innate view of family, the marriage of man and woman, if you do not respect life from its very onset, it’s the same as saying that you are a Catholic, but do not believe Jesus Christ. This is one of the aspects, but a crucial one, from which all values stem from.
Christian values and period
Thus, to shoehorn the Christian position into a sole niche, which is defined by radicalism, xenophobia and such – that’s completely incorrect because all of Europe rebuilt itself on Christian values and completely without xenophobia. I was the chairman of a European movement myself and all that – it was namely Christian values that built Europe. I know that there are sufficiently many radical formers, who systematically deny our steps, but that we more represent our European-ness, a more national model of the European Union does not mean either xenophobia or anything such. We will portray these things soon to honourable Mr Bruveris when he sees the specific programme points and the people we have,” R. J. Dagys said.
G. Nausėda has mentioned that he expects new faces in the Seimas elections and furthermore, philosopher Mindaugas Kubilius, who worked in the president’s campaign and is a personal friend of the president also was noted in the party’s meetings. When asked if the newly forming party in question could become the president’s partner, V. Bruveris responds that “I believe the only thing that is worth observing out of all this is a simple fact that Lithuania is a small country and many people are associated. I see no basis for any special conclusions or premises related to the president’s wishes or declarations being enacted for some new parties to emerge prior to the elections.
Difficulties with gaining popularity
Of course, there seemingly is one argument in this direction – some of the president’s own declarations and his ideological and identity content, they match. But I struggle to imagine that this is conscious and consistent action by the president or by those with directions from him participating in this party’s creation. If this is the case because, in Lithuania, nothing can be dismissed nowadays, particularly in this term, then we can only say that this says nothing good about either the president’s own or his political team’s political awareness.”
V. Bruveris doubts in the political power’s capacity to gain popularity, noting it will be a very niche power and will have no chances during the coming electoral cycle to become a leading organisation. As such, he notes, if the president tried to obtain structural support on its basis given such political powers and trends, he would be acting unwisely.
With the discussion turning to the possibility of former Minister of Transport and Communications Rokas Masiulis joining the newly forming entity, R. J. Dagys staunchly refused to either confirm or deny the possibility. Meanwhile, V. Bruveris found such a possibility to be unlikely, given the Conservative party’s pursuit of partnering with the popular former minister in an effort to have a powerful lead duo of I. Šimonytė and R. Masiulis for the elections. At the same time, the analyst notes that it can’t be dismissed that the former minister may instead look for a managerial role, some technocratic post in a state-owned enterprise.
Conservatives should worry but not that much
With just a year to the next Seimas elections, R. J. Dagys’ party has yet to be registered or signatures necessary for the party’s founding gathered. He assures that it will all be done in time, given how large Christian communities are due to support the move as they see Lithuania’s current political path leading nowhere. Furthermore, another one of the party’s main founders, V. Sinica has stated that the party’s goals right now are to run for Seimas next year and overcome the 5% vote barrier to enter parliament.
When asked if this new formation will compete for voters with the TS-LKD, the analyst notes that to an extent yes, given the existing identity crisis within the party. However, he notes that we should not expect any massive tectonic shifts in the Conservatives’ support base.
V. Bruveris believes that the newly formed party could realistically overcome the 5% vote barrier, given the low voter turnouts as of late. “You only need a few tens of thousands of votes in the multi-mandate district and you’re a parliamentary party. This is proven by a number of examples – the National Resurrection Party, the Way of Courage. This party’s chances to overcome the 5% barrier and become a parliamentary party will particularly rise if they have some story, something that will invite the public to happen. And if they manage to position themselves, attach themselves as the main protagonists of the story,” the analyst noted, albeit highlighting that the scandal over the commemorative plaque for Jonas Noreika is not such a story as it fails to incite a large audience.