Four scenarios of the coalition’s future

Algirdas Butkevičius, Saulius Skvernelis, Ramūnas Karbauskis
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

The ruling coalition partners – the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) and the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party (LSDP) will most likely continue working together, though their relations will remain turbulent. According to political scientists Mažvydas Jastramskis and Rima Urbonaitė while the other scenarios are possible, they would bring harm to both LVŽS leaders Ramūnas Karbauskis and Saulius Skvernelis, while furthermore not being beneficial to other political powers, reported.

After venting their dissatisfaction with one another, the Social Democrats and “Farmers” have remained in their coalition. After this week’s coordination council meeting Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has stated that the coalition between the two parties will continue. spoke to two political scientists, Institute of International Relations and Political Science (TSPMI) lecturer M. Jastramskis and Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) lecturer R. Urbonaitė, on four potential scenarios of the coalition’s future at this point.

Scenario 1. LVŽS and LSDP continue working together

LVŽS and LSDP continue working together, “Farmers” consult Social Democrats more.
The political scientists conclude that this is the most likely scenario for the short term.

R. Urbonaitė explains that likely the status quo will be upheld, albeit with some turbulence, bar a force majeure occurring where S. Skvernelis corners everyone and demands a reformation of the coalition, albeit this would be highly destabilising and hence less likely. She states out that the longer the coalition works together, the higher its chances of lasting.

M. Jastramskis points out that the forestry reform was the major breaking point where even S. Skvernelis lost his patience. The political scientist notes that the clash was also partly based on the Social Democrats receiving attempts to bypass them with the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats‘ (TS-LKD) help negatively. He concludes that the coalition is not stable and any foreign analyst would find the brittle state things are in odd.

R. Urbonaitė goes on to say that there is no love lost between the coalition partners, even if the coalition is likely to remain in its current form. According to her the cabinet is seemingly isolated and struggles to find support in Seimas given the independence of its ministers, while politicians in Seimas are more concerned with their ratings and personal popularity rather than reforms.

Scenario 2. A minority government

According to M. Jastramskis, it may be the Conservatives that would want to see a minority government because this would mean that R. Karbauskis, S. Skvernelis and the rest of the “Farmers” would become hostage to the Conservatives to a great extent. It would allow the Conservatives to contribute more to government work and to present themselves more to the public. With this the Conservatives could remain in the opposition and continue gathering capital for the next elections, while obtaining leverage and influence in governing.

R. Urbonaitė is not convinced by the idea that a minority government could be formed and believes it would not benefit the Conservatives, with it being more beneficial for them to enter a coalition and obtain posts and real influence because, according to her, it would be irrational to support separate projects from the opposition instead. The expert stresses that minority governments are not noted for their stability and require greenhouse conditions and massive effort to function due to the need for external support to pass legislation.

Scenario 3. LVŽS coalition with the Conservatives

M. Jastramskis points out that a coalition with the Conservatives would mean the LVŽS would have to give something up, likely leading to a change of Prime Minister or Seimas Speaker and Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis is unlikely to be willing to withdraw and already has backing which allows him to demonstrate independence. The situation would lead to a drawing of lines in the LVŽS Seimas group, which could potentially fracture it completely because the situation is very different to that immediately after the elections.

Meanwhile R. Urbonaitė highlights that the Conservatives would have greater strength in negotiations, given that the LSDP Seimas group is only 19 members strong versus the TS-LKD group of 31. According to her it is unclear how the “Farmers” would react to the need to sacrifice something, particularly with the Conservatives being more involved in government work and more intent on being equal partners.

Furthermore while such an outcome may be acceptable to S. Skvernelis, it could be unappealing to R. Karbauskis, which would lead to further frictions. R. Urbonaitė explains that such a coalition would have to be formed either now or very soon because in the second half of term the Conservatives will find it to not be worth doing, given the impending elections.

Scenario 4. LVŽS-LSDP coalition falls next year

LVŽS-LSDP coalition falls next year following conflict between R. Karbauskis and S. Skvernelis
MRU expert R. Urbonaitė states that with the weakening of R. Karbauskis’ positions, there is potential for certain transformations in the majority. She highlights that while R. Karbauskis created the political movement and did much to ensure the elections go as they did, he has weakened and has little to win by entering conflict with the popular S. Skvernelis.

Nevertheless she believes it is possible that if the government does not present the public with tangible achievements soon that R. Karbauskis will take matters into his own hands. Urbonaitė points out this would be difficult for Karbauskis because of his weakened authority and inability to quickly recover it. She concludes that in the end it is not worth for Karbauskis and Skvernelis to enter conflict because despite his popularity Skvernelis is not invulnerable and needs political backing, with the Conservatives not being a guarantee of such backing.

To M. Jastramskis such a scenario would mean the “Farmer” group’s breaking down. In such a case, he notes, there is little likelihood for them to maintain their current influence and no-one knows how many would side with S. Skvernelis and how many – with R. Karbauskis. The political scientist also points out that such a scenario would lead to S. Skvernelis losing organisational support, perhaps remaining in the cabinet, but putting his political career at risk in the long term.

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