On Saturday, MEP and impeached from the office of president Rolandas Paksas announced that his is departing the Order and Justice party that he founded. But he is not leaving politics.
He is creating a new civic movement named “I call the nation,” which plans to participate in the European Parliament elections.
According to Paksas, “The time has come to open a new page and tread its clean, white surface. (…) It is a new stage of advancing (…), the assembly of healthy patriotic Lithuanian forces into one.” Paksas noted that the civic movement is already registered, will be establishing branches and representations in the country’s regions.
The movement’s programme has not been unveiled yet, but it will no doubt reflect Paksas’ political views. The movement will be right wing, declaring itself patriotic.
In Paksas’ words, the movement will support people, “Who are for the state, its language, traditions, currency and territory.” It will seek to closely cooperate with European Union member states, which “support national uniqueness.”
In other words, Lithuania should relinquish the euro, strengthen links to Poland, Hungary, maybe Italy and other countries, which view the EU sceptically, but not its billions in funding.
The ranks of the movement’s founders appear to be figures, who withdrew from active politics, ones such as signatory Algimantas Norvilas, Vidmantas Staniulis, former ministers Jonas Lionginas and Eugenijus Maldeikis. A new movement under with stains from the past – not the best prospects.
A number of political parties founded in Lithuania were met with unexpectedly large support from voters during their first elections.
Let us hearken back to the Labour Party, the entertainment industry National Revival Party. Even N. Venckienė’s spite-based Path of Courage received almost 8% of the vote in 2012.
Paksas himself has significant electoral experience. In 2002, he and companions founded the Liberal Democrat Party, which was latter rechristened as Order and Justice.
The new movement’s name is no less catchy – “I call the nation, though not suppressed by the GPU, only Paksas’ political opponents.
The movement’s future is hard to predict, but I am rather certain that it will not be met with broad support. When running for office for the first time, V. Uspaskich, A. Valinskas and N. Venckienė were crowned by a halo of novelty, hopes that they will offer something new, that they will give momentum to the country’s inert political life.
The same cannot be said of Paksas, who is a political veteran with more than 20 years in politics under his belt and has disappointed his supporters a number of times. He has no charm either as a politician or as a person.
Paksas was prime minister twice and resigned twice, changed political parties due to personal considerations a number of times. His blind self-confidence is hard to comprehend, where after two failed tenures as prime minister, he chose to run for the topmost office in Lithuania, having neither a clear vision for Lithuania’s future, nor plans to reform the country.
Nevertheless, he was elected. Unfortunately, he was as poor as president as he was prime minister. Paksas is the most incompetent Lithuanian politician, who has become both head of cabinet and state.
While his desire to be acquitted from the controversial impeachment is understandable, his decision to make the rehabilitation of his person the main goal of a political party is hard to justify.
Obsessive attention to his fate is one of the reasons why Order and Justice failed to meet broader voter support. Even in 2012, after the European Court of Human Rights ruling that the Lithuanian permanent ban on an impeached president from participating in Seimas elections is disproportionate, his party still gathered fewer votes than Venckienė’s Path of Courage.
Paksas’ attitude to politics is overly egocentric even in Lithuania, where a number of parties were created in the name of implementing the founder’s will. The new I Call the Nation movement will focus on the “me” to a great extent and this will mean that the movement will be the last political flight of the self-ascribed “pilot”.
Paksas is an unappealing politician, but one must admit that his oponents acted dishonourably toward him.
The impeachment proceeded in the spirit of a witch-hunt, legally dubious actions were disregarded. The main reason for impeachment – the illegal granting of Lithuanian citizenship to Yuri Borisov – was not serious because Paksas’ predecessors A. Brazauskas and V. Adamkus granted Lithuanian citizenship a number of times to suspect individuals of dubious reputation, who financially supported their campaigns.
There was no firm proof of the links between the Paksas entourage and Russian secret services, thus it was settled for the statement that he is “vulnerable,” even though “vulnerability” is a metaphor and not a concept that specifies a concrete crime. In 2005, the Lithuanian Supreme Court ruled that Paksas was accused without basis for having revealed state secrets.
As mentioned, the ECHR ruled that the Lithuanian lifetime ban on entering the Seimas elections for an impeached president was disproportionate.
But Lithuania disregarded this ruling. The Lithuanian Constitutional Court had neither the courage, nor the honesty to openly dismiss the “doctrine” on breaches of oath it created.
Instead of admitting that the earlier ruling to bar Paksas permanently was mistaken, the Constitutional Court chose to focus on maintaining the image of their infallibility.
The Constitutional Court stated that the clash between the Lithuanian Constitution and the ECHR ruling could only be removed by amending the Constitution, all in the knowledge that the Constitution is hard to change, especially given that Paksas’ opponents will stall the process as long as they can.
The Court cared more about keeping themselves clean than enacting the principle that delayed justice is unfulfilled justice, all the while the Constitutional Court presents itself as the guarantor of the rule of law.
Paksas’ main opponents, the Conservatives, did not forgive their former party member, openly pursued a vendetta against him, seeking to bar his return to politics.
Various pretexts were thought up. For example, “An individual, who breached their oath, prior to regaining the right to run for office again when the duration ends, should, in a publically assigned means, apologise to the nation for their breach of oath. Clear signs of revenge.
Paksas’ political epic is long overextended. I believe that it will end next spring and Paksas will fully grasp that he has lost voters’ confidence.