ELECTIONS. Meet the 15 new faces of Seimas

DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Following the October Seimas elections, many current members will have to relinquish their seats to newcomers. The Alfa.lt portal looks at the new politicians who can be expected to be seen in Seimas for the next four years. The current Seimas still contains veteran politicians who have held seats since the first Seimas term following the declaration of independence, it is quite likely that as with every Seimas since 2000 we are going to see many new faces. For comparison the last election saw 45 new politicians enter Seimas in 2012. Since 2000 there has been a tendency for a new party to come to prominence in the election. This ranges from Artūras Paulauskas’ New Union Party in 2000, Viktor Uspakich’s Labour Party and Rolandas Paksas’ Order and Justice Party in 2004, Arūnas Valinskas’ National Resurrection Party in 2008 and Neringa Venckienė’s Path of Courage in 2012. This year it looks to be the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union (LVŽS) headed by Ramūnas Karbauskis which is currently the second most popular party, based on a public opinion research company Vilmorus survey.

On the other hand, some of the old political powers are looking to make some changes as well. The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) is experiencing a generational shift in its leadership with its new leader Gabrielius Landsbergis being followed into the Seimas election by a group of young politicians seen as his entourage. Others are looking to attract voters by having famous public figures join them for the elections, such as the numerous famous sportsmen in the Liberal Movement.

Not all parties are looking to make big changes, the current coalition parties are looking to showcase their well-known and veteran politicians, which is why these parties are less represented in the list.

Gabrielius Landsbergis
Landsbergis joined TS-LKD in 2014, only to soon be elected to the European Parliament and soon after – party chairman, when the unpopular former PM Andrius Kubilius stepped down from the post. Landsbergis’ lack of experience has been a source of criticism by many analysts and political opponents, but he is essentially guaranteed to enter Seimas with a first place in the Conservative’s electoral roll and candidacy in the Kaunas Centras-Žaliakalnis district which is known to be a conservative bastion.

Ingrida Šimonytė
Šimonytė came into prominence as the Andrius Kubilius cabinet Minister of Finance. While she retired from active politics afterward, her name would continue to appear in various political stories. She was also seen as a potential TS-LKD candidate for Vilnius mayor. The Vilnius Antakalnis district, which used to be Kubilius’ fortress, will likely ensure she enters Seimas, particularly given that she is fourth on the Conservative electoral roll.

Žygimantas Pavilionis
Pavilionis was one of the first to enter the TS-LKD, but later retired from active politics and dedicated himself to work in the diplomatic service. Prior to his return to Lithuanian politics there were rumours of him potentially becoming the Conservative and perhaps even the current President’s preferred candidate for the 2019 presidential election. His entry to Seimas should be eased by his candidacy in the Vilnius Naujamiestis district which would usually vote for his fellow party member Irena Degutienė.

Laurynas Kasčiūnas
Kasčiūnas is seen as being aligned to Degutienė and the Christian Democrat wing of the TS-LKD. He worked as an advisor for Degutienė from 2009 to 2012, as well as leading the Eastern Europe Study Centre. His way into Seimas could be tougher, while the Dzūkija district in the Alytus area has been led by conservative Algirdas Vrubliauskas for a number of terms now, there has not been a Conservative victory in the district for over a decade.

Tadas Langaitis
After leading the pro-transparency group Baltosios Pirštinės [White Gloves] businessman Tadas Langaitis joined TS-LKD along with G. Landsbergis in 2014. His prominence in the party is demonstrated by his posting as director of the party electoral headquarters. That is not to say, however, that it will be a very easy way into Seimas for him either. Langaitis is running for candidacy in the Kaunas Panemunė district which has been locked down by former conservative Vida Marija-Čigriejienė, who left the party after disagreements with its leadership. If Langaitis succeeds in convincing voters he is the “real” conservative candidate, entering Seimas would become simpler.

Saulius Skvernelis
The popular former Police Chief Prosecutor and former Minister of the Interior is placed first in the LVŽS electoral roll. His chances to enter Seimas were put on clear display when on his candidacy being announced in the Vilnius Karoliniškės district, both Linas Balsys, who had won there previously, and former Vilnius mayor Artūras Zuokas withdrew from the district.

Ramūnas Karbauskis
Karbauskis is no newcomer to politics, first entering Seimas two decades ago, that said the LVŽS had vanished from the Lithuanian political map for the past eight years. That said, successful communication, a focus on sobriety and patronism, attracting popular public figures and the weakness of the coalition government have been a recipe for success for the party, practically allowing the number two in the party electoral roll, Karbauskis, to already get to measure his chair in Seimas.

Eugenijus Jovaiša
Jovaiša is one of the examples of the LVŽS’ strategy to include non-partisan experts into their electoral roll. He is currently dean of the history faculty in the Lithuanian University of Educology. Jovaiša is not a widely known figure, but he is nigh guaranteed a seat, being number 4 in the LVŽS electoral roll.

Aurelijus Veryga
Veryga is seen as the “Peasant’s” potential candidate for Minister of Healthcare. He is well known for his strong statements on fighting alcoholism and the alcohol industry. A psychiatrist by trade, Veryga is fifth on the party electoral roll which should suffice to enter Seimas, given that LVŽS is currently seen as the second most popular party.

Stasys Jakeliūnas
Economist S. Jakeliūnas initially was connected to the coalition government, being an advisor to PM Butkevičius. After resigning following disagreements on economic and financial policy, Jakeliūnas ended up in the LVŽS. While his electoral roll position is only 9, he is still likely to enter Seimas due to the party’s surging popularity.

Rasa Budbergytė
The current Minister of Finance is the only new face in the Social Democrat electoral roll. Having six years of experience as the Lithuanian representative in the European Court of Auditors, she is seen as an answer to the Conservative Šimonytė. Being number 3 on the electoral roll, she is undoubtedly going to enter Seimas.

Virginijus Alekna
The Olympic champion in discus throw has decided to throw in his lot with the Liberal Movement, which has answered the LVŽS focus on experts and TS-LKD focus on the younger generation with famous sportsmen. Being second on the electoral roll, if the Liberal Movement passes the 5% vote barrier, he will become member of Seimas.

Arūnas Gelūnas
Gelūnas is currently the Lithuanian ambassador to UNESCO, previously having been Minister of Culture. He initially entered with Arūnas Valinskas’ party, but moved to the Liberal Movement when the former splintered. Currently he is number 5 in the party electoral roll and should become a member of Seimas if the party passes the 5% vote barrier.

Žydrūnas Savickas
Just as the discus thrower Alekna and chess master V Čmilytė-Nielsen, the strongman is another of the sportsmen to represent the Liberal Movement. Unlike the other two, however, Savickas worked with Artūras Zuokas’ party for a decade already, moving to the Liberal Movement only last year. Nevertheless, at number 9 on the electoral roll, he has real chance of entering Seimas if, once again, the Liberals pass the 5% voter barrier.

Ieva Kačinskaitė-Urbonienė
The Labour Party, just as its coalition partners has been focusing on known and tried politicians. Nevertheless they do have a new candidate in the party ranks. Having been a member of the Vilnius municipal council in 2011-2015, Kačinskaitė-Urbonienė is now looking to enter Seimas. Being number 5 on the party electoral roll makes this very likely.

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