If actions would be made consistently, President G. Nausėda should veto the Seimas’ decision to lower the electoral bar for parties to 3% and 5% for coalitions. The ruling coalition will likely reject the veto. There will be a new opportunity to broadly consider the confrontation of a part of Seimas and of the president, lrytas.lt
The Lithuanian people have long been sick of such confrontations and intrigues. I do not know if it is worth for the president to involve himself in the story of the electoral bar. In various democratic states, these bars are at various levels and cause no catastrophic consequences.
Yes, there is the risk that ruling coalition formation will become more difficult. But what, do they form easily now? It might be impossible to gather allies? True. There are ample examples of this even in old democracies.
The problem is not that too many parties will enter parliament. The problem is that a party, even having spent a bit of time in politics, having traditions, is unable to draw enough voters with its ideas so that they would at least not be curious about marginals inserting themselves into major politics from the side-lines.
Unfortunately, both the right and the left in Europe, once having been able to attract and enchant many voters with their ideas, are no longer able to do so, have run out of breath, often repeat the same tired tropes, thus voters naturally begin looking to so-called novelties.
This happened in Lithuania as well. Even while living in an era of disappearing boundaries between the right and the left, the Conservatives, Christian Democrats, Liberals and Social Democrats gathered significant numbers of their supporters in society for years, thus the Seimas, while irate, would never be particularly complicated.
Even party political programmes would be read, even their ideas compared, even if only used by “experts”. Unfortunately, while the establishment, or however else you would call them, parties still have in their ranks learned people, academics, professors, as time passed, both programmes and the “talking heads” eventually reached poverty of ideas.
The drought of thought soon spread throughout Lithuania’s political lands. Where there was a little “rain”, instead of ideas, their surrogates began sprouting – populist slogans. Any rational proposals, which can still be argued in favour or against, were replaced with half-baked slogans. For some, they become novelties, which were to revitalise political life.
But will a lowering of the bar and small parties entering Seimas lead to a renewal of ideas? Not necessarily. However, this could make large parties more seriously look at their political programmes.
This sanitary function is currently being performed in Europe by Eurosceptic political organisations, ever more significantly emerging Greens. By the way, the latter’s role, with U. von der Leyen taking the reins of the European Commission, could also strengthen in the countries where this problem has so far been overshadowed by social issues.
That said, as soon as the Seimas decided to lower the electoral bar, warnings emerged on not only difficulties for future coalitions, but also regarding dangerous individuals. For example, V. Titov could enter Seimas and even become a minister. That could be. It could even be worse.
In such a case, it is necessary to clearly inform the public as to who is who and urge them to not vote for an organisation that includes such figures. But what is the guarantee that voters will understand and not make a mistake/ This is namely the largest problem.
I guess that a number of commentators and analysts are concerned when it comes to the lowered bar, not because of future inconveniences to form coalitions, but the still unpredictable part of the Lithuanian public. After all, V. Uspaskich, a clearly pro-Russian figure receives votes even from former deportees. And how many people silently support V. Putin?
The dark corners of a part of Lithuanian society’s thinking have been a problem since the restoration of independence. By the way, it was also the main reason for the so-far high electoral bar.
However, there is another perspective. For example, why does the Lithuanian Russian Union necessarily have to be with the LLRA [Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania]? Will there be more democracy by forming conditions for political organisations left outside Seimas for years to enter it now? There won’t. Just as how increasing the bar doesn’t lower it.
The shifts in the bar can be viewed as an egoistic interest. Apparently, facing constant losses, the majority is afraid to be left on the side-lines. The politicians’ fear is human. But I also see a positive side to such an idea.
There could potentially be nowhere left for the Seimas’ respectability to fall in the rating scale. The image of politicians is increasingly portrayed ironically and even satirised by the public. The citizens’ interest in politics and civic activities is also falling. The Seimas is as if an isolated island or an inevitable evil. One of the factors of this isolation is a high bar of entry to Seimas, which can only be overcome by more affluent parties.
So the only recourse for active individuals is to join with the stronger and more affluent. But not all those with aspirations of public life want this. Finally, there are still people, who hold views, which they do not want to leave shelved just for an opportunity at Seimas membership.
There is another no less important circumstance. In politics, there is traditionally much personal prejudice, preconceptions, psychological barriers of communication. Over thirty years of restored independence, we witness a number of times how organisations close in their views were living and acting in separation, furthermore – one in Seimas and another – out of it. A wider opened door into Seimas could help creative individuals, who are not afraid of challenges, to enter the certainly not rosy political arena.