With the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) taking a clear lead in the first round of the Seimas elections, ruling Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) leader Ramūnas Karbauskis stated that he is calm because according to him, it is easier to work in the opposition than in the government, though some matters would be disappointing. That said, he nonetheless described the capacity to form a ruling coalition as a victory in the election, lrytas.lt reported.
“Of course, we imagine. Of course, it might be a little disappointing because up to this moment, our opponents said that they would destroy all we did. That would be disappointing. […] However, all politicians understand that there is a time for you to work in the opposition and a time to work in the government. We are definitely prepared for it.
On the other hand, we were so calm yesterday and so we are today because it is easier to work in the opposition than in government. And as you might know, the pay doesn’t change depending on this,” R. Karbauskis said.
According to him, if the “Farmers” land in the opposition, the party would be more constructive than the Conservatives who took the most votes in the multi-mandate district.
“If we end up as the opposition, we will be a constructive opposition. We will definitely not do what our colleagues did, constantly taking out cards, trying to ensure that laws are not passed. However, on the other hand, I believe that we will be a fairly strong opposition,” R. Karbauskis assured.
Nevertheless, he also did not dismiss the possibility that the “Farmers” might still form a new cabinet and, in such a case, continuity of work would be a priority.
Kaunas as a challenge
R. Karbauskis did not conceal that he would view the results of the second round to be a success if the party were to be able to form a ruling coalition.
“It is hard to say how many members of Seimas are needed to form a ruling coalition. We currently have 16 mandates and have 33 candidates in second round races, it is hard to say how many of them will earn mandates. But that some will – that’s clear,” he said.
R. Karbauskis admitted that the greatest second-round challenge is due to be in Kaunas where “Farmer” candidates will face the Conservatives in an entire six constituencies. The Conservatives’ candidates received more votes here during the first round.
R. Karbauskis: we entered as if to an exam
Commenting on the results, the “Farmer” leader compared them to those of 2016 when after the first round, the Conservatives were also in the lead, but everything changed after the second round when the single-mandate district voting was completed.
“Looking at the results, in one sense, they concluded the same as the previous elections [in 2016], I mean the first and second positions. Just that the gap is a little wider after the first round than it was back then. After the first round, it is clear that the elections aren’t over yet and our political opponents are also saying that everything will become clear after the second round.
Of course, parties have differing positions right now. We have somewhat fewer second rounds. But what these second rounds will be like, what it will mean, that’s difficult to say right now. The voters will choose,” the politician said.
R. Karbauskis accented that the party entered these elections as if an exam. “We truly entered these elections as if an exam. Whether we passed it or not is probably not up to us to decide. In essence, the elections aren’t over yet and how they will end, we will see in two weeks,” the LVŽS chairman mused.
What will their second-round strategy be and have they discussed with anyone a framework for a potential coalition? R. Karbauskis explained that it is premature to do so and the party’s main focus will be on the second round of the Seimas elections.
“No, just like after the first round in the previous elections we did not talk to anyone, the same applies now. The only talks that there could be is with party candidates in districts, namely what candidates will support our candidates or our opponents’ candidates.
Our most frequent opponent in the second round is candidates from the Conservatives. As such, our candidates are of course consulting centre-left party candidates on concentrating votes,” he informed.
“Could go both ways”
When asked what results he expects after the second round of elections, R. Karbauskis was unwilling to offer firm predictions.
“I think that we all understand that it could go both ways. Indeed, we currently can’t say who will gather more votes. It is the people’s choice and in this situation, it is unclear whether the results of the last elections will be repeated in the sense that centre-left voters will unite their voters around centre-left candidates.
In the previous elections, centre-left candidates won and perhaps the same will happen this time, I can’t say for sure,” the “Farmer” leader said.
Lamenting the downfall of coalition partners
According to R. Karbauskis, the 2016 Seimas elections showed that it is premature to decide the victors after the first round. “There will be a second round and the last elections were a good lesson to everyone that indeed the victors of the first round do not necessarily come out as victors at the very end,” R. Karbauskis emphasised.
He lamented over the failure of his coalition partners – the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania-Christian Families Union (LLRA-KŠS) and the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDDP) – in the multi-mandate electoral district. Both the LLRA-KŠS and LSDDP failed to surpass the 5% electoral threshold to enter Seimas.
“In regards to the Social Democratic Labour Party, no one really predicted to overcome the 5% threshold. The LLRA has balanced for a number of elections on the 5% figure and it is truly unfortunate that they were unable to overcome it because we have been working successfully in the coalition,” R. Karbauskis said regretfully.
Nevertheless, the “Farmer” leader emphasised that at least a few LLRA-KŠS and LSDDP candidates have or will be entering Seimas through the single-mandate electoral districts. “Several LLRA-KŠS single-mandate district candidates will enter Seimas and we can see that likely so will a few from the Social Democratic Labour Party. I believe there are four of them in second rounds and three should definitely obtain a mandate,” he counted.
R. Karbauskis: “If our party members think that the result isn’t suitable, they will have the chance to replace the party chairman”
When asked following a potential failure in the second round for his party and being unable to form a ruling coalition, what his own fate would be, R. Karbauskis said that the party’s members would decide.
“It is difficult to say what my fate as party chairman will be […] In terms of the final election results, those will be seen after the second round and the party will definitely give thought to those questions because we have a congress planned. If our party members decide that the result is unsuitable, they will have the opportunity to replace the party chairman,” he explained.
On Sunday, when the first election results came out and while the “Farmers” had jumped into the lead, the party celebrated and already spoke of partners in a future ruling coalition. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis stated that on Monday morning, it would be possible to discuss and arrange potential frameworks for a coalition.
However, after midnight, with the Conservatives taking the lead, R. Karbauskis admitted that the “Farmers” would likely have to settle for second place in the first round, albeit advising to wait for the second round results, which could change everything.
The first round of Seimas elections in the multi-mandate electoral district was won by the opposition Conservatives.
According to data from the Central Electoral Commission, with votes from 1989 of 1989 districts, the Conservatives received 24.8% of the vote and will receive 23 mandates in parliament.
Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union received 17.5% of the vote and 16 mandates, the Labour Party – 9.47% and nine mandates, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party – 9.26% and eight mandates.
First time participant in the parliamentary elections, the Freedom Party took 9.02% of the vote and secured eight mandates, while the Liberal Movement received 6.79% of the vote and six mandates.
No other parties were able to overcome the 5% electoral threshold, with the LLRA-KŠS reaching just under the threshold, receiving 4.82% of the vote.