ELECTIONS. two reasons for a “Peasant” – Social Democrat coalition

Saulius Skvernelis, Algirdas Butkevičius
DELFI montažas

Lithuania, as other countries, has a number of tales where a young girl or third brother reach a fork in the road and have to choose between the left and the right. While the elections aren’t yet over, however this must be how the Peasant and Greens Union (LVŽS) must feel right now, with the two most prominent parties in Lithuania trying to lure them over. If you go left – you will be rich, if you go left – you will be intelligent. This is the fairy tale-like dilemma the two leaders of the LVŽS Ramūnas Karbauskis and Saulius Skvernelis now face, as Artūras Anužis writes in tv3.lt.

The greatest headache

It really is a tough puzzle because the “Peasants” will not be capable of forming a coalition on their own, even if all their candidates win in the second round. Since miracles are rare, the peasants will most likely not win all their single-mandate districts, so they are still left at the same decision – where to turn?

The “Peasants” have existed as a party for a fairly long time, but they can still be described as newcomers in politics because most of those entering Seimas, including the party leader, have never tasted power or formed a coalition government.

As such many questions and concerns arise, ones where finding answers is not simple because you cannot admit to your potential partners, that you lack experience and fear to be cheated. Meanwhile the Conservatives (TS-LKD) and Social Democrats (LSDP), either of which has been in Lithuanian coalition governments since independence, are experienced old guard, who await any slip up by their partner to be.

Essential reason – authority

Even though there are those who insist on the potential for a TS-LKD – LVŽS or TS-LKD – LSDP “rainbow” coalition, the chances of a coalition between the LSDP and the LVŽS are no lower.
The reason is fairly simple – authority and influence. The “Peasants” have been declaring since the beginning of their campaign that they are in no rush to create a coalition and intend to wait for election results. With the ratings placing them in the top three, the “Peasants” boldly declared they would like to form the ministerial cabinet themselves.

After the first round of elections their chances to win the elections have increased even more, the “Peasants” are preparing to be the victors of this election.

But even if they were left second, the “Peasants” would still likely be interested in partnering with the Social Democrats. The reason is simple – why make a coalition with a larger partner, if they can leave the winner “on ice” and work with the weaker Social Democrats and Polish Electoral Action. They would then have their own PM, more ministerial posts and of course more authority and influence.

The Skvernelis factor

Another important reason – the post of PM. When making a coalition it also plays an important role, being the most influential post in the country. Every party seeks to take the post in charge of the cabinet.

This is where a number of extra factors come into play. Among the greatest is that of party frontrunner S. Skvernelis. If LVŽS Chairman Karbauskis really does hand over the post to the former police Chief Commissioner, there may be difficulties with Skvernelis’ candidacy.

It is a public secret that the President Dalia Grybauskaitė does not get along with Skvernelis who is also a former Minister of the Interior. The President was dissatisfied with his work and conduct as minister. While the antipathy was never escalated into the public sphere, it would occasionally surface.

As such if the “Peasants” form a coalition with the Conservatives, D. Grybauskaitė would likely select a Conservative candidate for PM, not Skvernelis. If the “Peasants” partner with the LSDP, the President, who has directly clashed with the Social Democrats, would have to opt for the lesser of two evils, the “Peasants”.

Looking at all the pros and cons the LVŽS will likely attempt to win the entire poker game and take power, thus likely turning left.

But how it will actually go – we will see soon.

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