With Seimas elections less than a month away, the various parties are in a hurry to present their programmes and politicians who would take the place of current ministers. The Prime Minister position is not the only top sought after role, with parties also vying for Seimas Speaker as this position qualifies as the second highest in the country, being able to stand in for the President. The portal tv3.lt inquires which individuals parties expect to see at the head of the Seimas this term.
One key factor is that many parties consider this post as a subject of coalition negotiations, making it difficult to specify ahead of time, but discussions have already started and some parties have potential candidates.
Labour Party – the current Seimas Speaker could be replaced
The head of the Labour Party Valentinas Mazuronis told tv3.lt that the current Seimas Chairwoman, fellow party member Loreta Graužinienė will be evaluated alongside Labour Party ministers at the end of term to decide if she will be selected as a candidate for the position once more. According to Mazuronis, Graužinienė worked with sincerity and was rather successful despite pressure from the media. Mazuronis does stress that other candidates exist within the party structure however.
“We have former Seimas Chairpersons in the party such as A. Paulauskas, V. Gedvilas. We have members who have occupied posts and led structures both in the Seimas and cabinet. We certainly have individuals who could take positions in the Seimas leadership and not just one or two,” noted Mazuronis.
Currently Labour Party members are at the head of six Seimas committees: the Budget and Finance Committee headed by Petras Narkevičius, the Rural Affairs Committee headed by Petras Čimbaras, Health Affairs Committee – Dangutė Mikutienė, State Control and Municipalities Committee – Valentinas Bukauskas, Human Rights Committee – Zita Žvikienė.
Artūras Paulauskas was selected to be Seimas Chairman in 2004, but was voted off in two years due to a graft scandal. He currently is at the head of the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee. Vydas Gedvilas became Seimas Chairman in 2012, but left the post in 2013 when a court ruled against the Labour Party leadership in the so-called black accounting case. He is currently working as a deputy for the Seimas Chairwoman.
Lithuanian Social Democrat Party – from deputy to leader
The core party of the current coalition government, the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party (LSDP) has not discussed specific candidates for Seimas Chairperson, LSDP electoral campaign head and Seimas Vice-Chairman Algirdas Sysas told tv3.lt, noting that he could become Chairman himself.
“Discussions on this usually occur if you win elections and the process of building a coalition and cabinet begins. […] We have experience. Both I and Gediminas Kirkilas are deputies to the Chairwoman, Juozas Bernatonis is a former deputy. Our party has members with experience, who could take the post. We will choose from among them,” stated Sysas.
Sysas, who is also the LSDP Vice-Chairman, has continued to successfully be re-elected into the Seimas since his initial entry in 1996. He has served as deputy for the Seimas Chairperson since 2012. Another LSDP Vice-Chairman G. Kirkilas is also serving as deputy for the Seimas Chairperson and also heads the European Affairs Committee. He served as PM for the XIV cabinet and has also served as Minister of National Defence. Juozas Bernatonis is currently serving as Minister of Justice, he has also worked as deputy for the Seimas Chairperson from 1993 to 1996 and as Minister of Interior in 2001-2003.
Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats – Will the Conservative regain office?
The head of the opposition Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ (TS-LKD) electoral campaign Dainius Kreivys noted that the party is currently focusing on selecting candidates to form a cabinet, while the position of Seimas Chairperson will be discussed after the elections. He did, however, express support for Irena Degutienė, who according to him has been one of the most successful at performing the duties of the post. She was Minister of Social Security and Labour from 1996 to 2000, acting Seimas Chairwoman in 1999 and Seimas Chairwoman from 2008 to 2012.
Order and Justice Party – A scandalous minister considered
The head of the Order and Justice Party’s electoral campaign Remigijus Žemaitaitis also noted his party had no specific candidate selected yet, albeit discussions have already begun. Among potential candidates he name himself, as well as Kęstas Komskis and Kęstutis Trečiokas.
Žemaitaitis has worked as a deputy for various judges and was elected to Seimas in 2008 and 2012. He is currently at the head of the Seimas Economics Committee. Kęstas Komskis is a long time Pagėgiai parish council member, former mayor and is currently deputy to the Seimas Chairwoman. Kęstutis Trečiokas replaced Valentinas Mazuronis as Minister of Environment in 2014, when the latter parted ways with the party. Trečiokas was also a long time Telšiai area municipality council member.
Trečiokas has been involved in a scandal this year, which was discovered through the publication of private conversations between Druskininkai Mayor Ričardas Malinauskas and cabinet members where the head of the resort town was discussing how certain cabinet decisions were to be made due to their favourable nature to the outcome of the trial regarding the so-called Vijūnėlės manor. That said the investigation on potentially illegal influence was halted by law enforcement.
Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union – The man with the epaulet
The Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union (LVŽS) is more specific about its candidacy, with party Chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis confirming to tv3.lt that they would want to see former Police Commissioner and Minister of the Interior Saulius Skvernelis as Seimas Chairman, if the elections turn out favourably, also suggesting hoping for a PM position for Bronius Ropė.
Skvernelis is positioned at the top of the electoral roll for the LVŽS, he was deputy Police Commissioner in 2008-2011, Police Commissioner in 2011-2014 and Minister of the Interior in 2014-2016.
Liberal Movement – Unwilling to tell
Unofficial sources suggest that in internal debate the Liberal Movement has Seimas member Gintaras Steponavičius as the main candidate for Seimas Chairmanship. The party leadership is unwilling to comment however, stressing this is a question for a coalition.
Steponavičius worked as deputy for the Seimas Chairperson in 2000-2004 and 2005-2008. He was also the Minister of Education and Science in the XV cabinet.