The Social Democratic Party will soon have a new leader: it will be either a 37-year-old deputy mayor of Vilnius Gintautas Paluckas or 32-year-old Minister of Economy Mindaugas Sinkevičius.
However, both politicians are not members of the Parliament, so it will not directly lead to a political group in the Parliament, which directly votes on laws. Both candidates are going to change the style of communication with the coalition partner Farmers and Greens Union. G. Paluckas even suggested that the party divisions now demand to cease coalition that does not seem useful to the Social Democrats.
Moreover, both candidates said that it may change Social Democrat posture because of the former Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius promoted Labour Code.
Farmers and Greens Union Chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis have said that the Parliament will approve only those amendments that have been agreed in the Tripartite Council, but both M. Sinkevičius and G. Paluckas claim that their position is not binding.
Who will rule the group in the Parliament?
M. Sinkevičius and G. Paluckas on Tuesday participated in a debate in DELFI TV studio to discuss the pending changes in the party.
The main problem between the two candidates is that they are not Parliament members, so they have to artificially keep in touch with parliamentarians, who are the most visible faces of the party. Moreover, it is the Parliament members that vote on legislations and implement the party program or forget it.
“I am a little bit fearful in these circumstances, if I became the chairman of the party, I will be invited to speak in a DELFI conference or elsewhere, to speak on behalf of all parties, but the group will not always act as I say. To prevent this from happening, you need to talk and keep doing so on political issues, “- believes M. Sinkevičius.
At the time, G. Paluckas said that the Social Democratic Group in the Parliament, for the failure to implement the party program would probably receive discontent from party colleagues, during the formation of the lists of candidates for future elections.
“Faction member may depart from the party program or batch management bodies of decisions, but just as well, the party candidate cannot see his electoral list in the next political election cycle. I really do not think our group would like to deliberately oppose or sabotage the newly elected leader. In fact, the decisions taken by the management body – the Board, the Presidium and the Council – even members of the Parliament would aid the group work, because those decisions represent the views of all parties, then it would mean a large part of the electorate opinion “- believes G. Paluckas.
Changes the position on the Labour Code
One example is that the Social Democrats will have to manoeuvre, the Labor Code propagated by the former Prime Minister A. Butkevičius Government. Political scientists and politicians recognize that this legislation was one of the major reasons for the defeat of the Social Democrats to the Greens and farmers in the elections. The Social Democrats recognize this themselves.
M. Sinkevičius states that with the Labour Code the problem will arise again because its validity up to July was stopped, at which time negotiations took place between workers and employers in the Tripartite Council. It agreed on 19 points but on a number of issues a common position could not be reached.
“I think that we will continue the discussions in the group. As a result, what is agreed on the union signatures were collected, but there are some fifty positions, where employers and trade union opinions are different. I think that we will resume at the theoretical links with the trade unions and the normal, constructive on speaking, go back to that decision, see how we can find a way with the unions to represent employees “, – said M. Sinkevičius.
“I do not think we will step on the same rake. We have done it once and the voters have driven us into a corner, “- said the politician.
G. Paluckas said that the Social Democrats have formed the subject party position on the Labour Code and they would liberate A. Butkevičius and other colleagues “from authorship”. He called the project “not very successful”, because, according to G. Paluckas the updated Labour Code should be considered by the whole party.
“The party is in no way committed to consider the 19 points, 30 points or so, it will be discussed as a whole, decisions will be taken in accordance with the classical Social Democratic values. I certainly would not rule out the possibility that our position on the Labour Code will be changed. As for the political group, I think it will be much easier to vote when they will feel the support of many fellow people”, – said the politician.
Basically, this means that the matter will be transferred to the party council, which could oblige the parliament members to vote one way or another.
Party members are demanding to terminate the coalition?
Both politicians also admit that members of the party raised the question about the benefits of the coalition with the farmers and greens. To M. Sinkevičius, most farmers do not like green the Prime Minister S. Skvernelis meetings with the opposition and the search for votes.
“We as a minimum will have a discussion and the discussion cannot be that you say that we will do so, but only to accept my responsibility. And if I do not agree, then I am wrong, and you can run and do something different. I think that we cannot run, we have to agree on what we want to do during the spring session and work on it rather than run away “, – said M. Sinkevičius.
When asked how he will prohibit S. Skvernelis to meet with the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrat leader Gabrielius Landsbergis, the candidate for the Social Democratic leader said he wont to prevent anyone anything, but then he also will invite G. Landsbergis to the meetings.
“Wwe can also meet with Mr. G. Landsbergis, and also can find common topics,” – says M. Sinkevičius.
G. Paluckas in turn said that the Social Democrats have two options – either to work in coalition with the farmers and greens or retreat to the opposition.
Job prospects are quite severe. Despite the fact that we set clear priorities in the political agenda, what I have been speaking about the past few weeks, the instruments for achieving these priorities and it is not in our hands, “- says G. Paluckas.
The politician does not rule out that there will be tensions because the Social Democratic proposals may get stuck in various Ministries.
“If the business-like relationship with the coalition partners fails, I have no doubt that have a proposal to revise or terminate the coalition agreement will come to the party council and the matter will be discussed”, – he says.
There are already proposals? “There were a number of them from the start. If an open vote would take place on a party level, I’m afraid that the opinion of the need to put an end to the coalition agreement would a win, “- summarizes G. Paluckas.