Paksas was impeached in 2004 and removed from the Lithuanian presidency for gross violation of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court subsequently ruled that a person who has violated a constitutional oath should be banned from running for elected office for life. However, the European Court of Human Rights later challenged the ruling, saying that a life-long ban was excessive, and obliged Lithuania to change the law.
Political scientist Justas Šireikia told the radio Žinių Radijas that the vote, which failed to pass the legislation that would have allowed Paksas to run for parliament in 2016, will keep the status quo, where Paksas will continue to present himself as a political victim of the ruling elites.
Šireika said: “The result can be seen in two ways. On the one hand, parliament showed it was not willing to allow Paksas to stand for elections. On the other hand, parliament did him a favour by allowing him to keep his persona of a political martyr, victimized by the ruling elite which took away his right to run for office. Mr. Paksas has used this role very successfully before and will probably continue to do so. But of course, now the situation is such that the party leader cannot lead his party to the elections. It also causes certain difficulties for the Order and Justice party.”
On Tuesday, 83 Seimas members voted for the amendment, 11 voted against it, and 13 abstained, meaning that the Seimas could not reach the 94 affirmative votes required to pass a constitutional amendment.
Šireika said that Labour Party MPs who refused to take part in Tuesday’s vote did so out of political calculations. “Considering the Labour Party members’ motives for why more than half of the Labour Party MPs did not participate in the voting, it must be understood that this is clear electoral calculation. The Labour Party expects to lure voters from the Order and Justice party in the parliamentary elections and thus expand their electorate.”
Commenting on Labour Party MPs abstaining from the vote, the party’s leader Valentinas Mazuronis said: “You need to ask those parliamentary group members who did not attend the voting. Whether this was because of some serious reasons, perhaps it was their decision, it is difficult for me to say.” He added that the party gave its members a free vote on the issue.
Mazuronis himself was previously a member of the Order and Justice party and largely seen as the right hand and heir apparent to Paksas. He left the party this year, quoting disagreements with the party leader.
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