Laurinkus. Lithuania is familiar with a dramatic clash of visions and reality: how will it be now?

The Seimas - DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Former President D. Grybauskaitė demanded English language skills from minister candidates, just no one knows based on what scale – up to five or ten points. By the way, the current minister of national defence nominee A. Anušauskas did not clarify either when he rated his English skills with a five. It matters not – translators need work too Mečys Laurinkus wrote in

President G. Nausėda asked minister candidates not about their language skills, but about visions. It’s unclear what sense of the word – the literal (visions) or figurative (a clear sense of future objectives)? From the fragments of what minister nominees have said, I can currently say in brief – either no visions or they are very uncertain.

Only the appointed Prime Minister I. Šimonytė proclaims a clear vision – next year’s budget deficit will be vast. Even explaining the types of visions aside from various theological wanderings, it is not difficult to understand the sort of troubles the new cabinet will face. To “correctly” vaccinate “from and from” (one can wonder, what of those refusing vaccinations?) and to at least cushion the avalanche of bankruptcies will take at least two years. There will only be twelve months left to implement visions because the last months of the term are usually left to explanations as to why the visions collided with reality.

By the way, from a modest, unwilling to self-advertise, but insightful political scientist, I heard a prophecy (a type of vision) that we could face snap elections.

Lithuania is familiar with a dramatic clash of visions and reality. This year, we remember the 1920 Constituent Assembly of Lithuania and its vision of a democratic state. Of course, it ended with the 1926 coup and thirteen years without the Seimas or only an imitation of it. Some witnesses and contemporaries decry it, others justify it on the basis of the then circumstances.

A group of young enthusiasts took to creating a model of the “organic state”, contrasting it with the authoritarian regime. Unfortunately, the occupation crushed both the concept and A. Smetona’s regime together with his opponents. The visions remained just a memory among the survivors and within academic publications.

The Sąjūdis’ programme created a vision of a democratic, socially just system, which coexisted with the free market, but the reality that struck five years later was received by the programme’s creators as wild capitalism. I can no longer recall, which cabinet in a row it is that pledges to overcome social exclusion, but unfortunately, one vision follows another and yet, exclusion just won’t go down and even rises.

The same will be true of the new government. Young leaders will enter institutions that have long functioned based on their own rules and laws, where changes, for a variety of reasons, some even justified (labour regulations and laws), proceed slowly. Inertia is stronger than any vision.

The new government began working in December, talks about ideas and reforms will end there. Scandals and political biography developments will resume in Seimas, just as before, society will continue rating political parties and the Seimas poorly in sociological surveys, they will swear at scandalous figures, but will then elect them again come to the next elections.

Does this mean that politicians with a wealth of ideas and visions will thus remain a participant of academic conferences? Mostly, yes. But if even a tenth of the proposals floating around in the air were to reach the public in the shape of reforms, that’s already a great deal.

I had the opportunity to read that the Seimas plans to establish a Committee on the Future. Even if such an entity will be ironically named by someone as the Committee on Visions, it remains meaningful to continue discussions hidden in academic publications about Lithuania’s future. Future projects, written together or by individual institutions (in the energy sector) are written in the hundreds of pages, but it is hard to tell how much is used in practice.

It is one when a state plans its future on its own and a wholly other matter when this is done in tandem with other countries. The EU’s musings on the union’s future, for obvious reasons, feature and display (fewer studies that make mention of this topic) a pause.

One can only guess at how much longer it will last, but nevertheless, it will be time to take a new step. It will not be an easy step because a similar one – the creation and approval of a Constitution – failed previously.

The step will be further hampered by another circumstance – the current frictions between the EU’s members are far more acute than fifteen years ago. Even something of an element of blackmail emerged – a potential “exit.” National interests regained interest not only due to US President D. Trump’s whims. It is a worldwide process. And it will divide the EU’s member states. How many parts there will be, but at least two. You could potentially describe them as integrationists and those seeking to retain the current system.

The integrationists (my term) have a simple goal – the EU as a confederation. Without proceeding on the path of greater integration, the supporters of this idea believe that the EU will sooner or later disband. The arguments as to why this could occur are serious and hard to dispute. And why argue, one could ask. After all, common values, democracy, a common policy seeking social justice, rising welfare levels, peaceful mutual relations – let there be a confederation.

Finally, for the smaller EU members, it is a far easier access to the world with their production and ideas than if it were done independently. And most importantly, also being a member of NATO, it is guaranteed security, something that has never existed in Lithuanian history before.

However, not all EU members agree with the idea of confederation. Why they don’t is a broad topic containing many equally justified arguments (for example, the handover of further authority to the “centre”). Perhaps the Seimas’ Committee on the Future should organise a public discussion of this?

And what path will the new Seimas majority and cabinet take us down? I think it will be toward an EU confederation. Or it will present its own vision. Though I highly doubt it.

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