A bit more than four months are left until the Lithuanian parliamentary elections. Recent scandals have rocked the Liberal Movement party’s support, but nearly all parties have recently experienced scandals or missteps that have cast shadows over their candidates. Currently, only the Peasant and Greens Union seems to have lost the least as the elections approach.
Sergejus Muravjovas, the head of the Lithuanian division of Transparency International, said “Currently, it’s clear that lobbying, or the influence of our state, is happening all the time, but we know nothing about it. It’s like sex in the Soviet Union – everyone talks about it, but nobody sees it and pretends that it doesn’t exist.”
Before the Liberal Movement’s scandal, the party had challenged the conservative party’s role as a right-wing leader. Many predict that the conservatives will now regain their role as the leaders of the right wing, but their chances to form a ruling coalition in autumn without the liberals are slim.
“From a short-term perspective, the liberal scandal is not good for the conservatives because their main partners will lose many votes, and without them, forming a coalition won’t be very easy,” said Ainė Ramonaitė, a professor at the Vilnius University International Relations and Political Science Institute.
The scandal involving Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, Minister of Environment Kęstutis Trečiokas, and Druskininkai mayor Ričardas Malinauskas has damaged the Social Democrats’ ratings, especially after Malinauskas and a number of his supporters left the party. A number of other smaller scandals also hurt their ratings, but Ramonaitė says that the Liberal Movement’s current problems serve to draw attention away from these issues.
The Labour party and Order and Justice parties have both been rocked by scandals as well, with Viktoras Uspaskich‘s trial on the one hand and accusations of corruption against Rolandas Paksas on the other.
This leaves the Peasant and Greens Union as one of the only parties still seemingly untouched by corruption.
“They calmy waited for their moment and worked for a long time behind the scenes, patiently and calmly, they played a very good hand with Saulius Skvernelis, and so far, it seems like they might be the primary winners,” said Ramonaitė.