“Peasant” shadow cabinet evaporating – who will take minister posts

Prime Minister's chancellery
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Shadow Minister of Finance to remain in Seimas

Former assistant to now former Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, Stasys Jakeliūnas was being discussed as a potential candidate for the post of Minister of Finance since spring. Now, however, it is clear that the economist has been offered only the post of Seimas Finance and Budget Committee chairman.

On Tuesday this was publically confirmed by the new PM, S. Skvernelis. According to the PM, the committee is of crucial importance so it has to be headed by a professional, while it is not possible to invite external specialists to the post, hence Jakeliūnas was convinced to take the post.
Furthermore there have long been talks in Seimas that S. Jakeliūnas’ candidacy was viewed negatively by head of state Dalia Grybauskaitė.

Now Bank of Lithuania Supervision Service, Financial Services and Markets Supervision Department Director Vilius Šapoka is seen as the most realistic candidate for the post of Minister of Finance. This news has not been denied by S. Skvernelis.

Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs won’t be wronged

One of the most experienced diplomats, 11 March Act of Independence signatory Petras Vaitiekūnas was mentioned as the most realistic candidate to take the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Here as well it appears that the final say went to President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Her entourage has often hinted that she would like to continue forming foreign policy with the incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius. Thus it was – the post went to the Social Democrats, leaving LinkevičIus with an opportunity to retain his post.

S. Skvernelis does not intend to bid farewell to the “Peasant” shadow minister, planning to offer Vaitiekūnas to be his foreign affairs advisor.

Women refused, a diplomat is being urged?

Both the “Peasant” leader Ramūnas Karbauskis and S. Skvernelis have often said that the head of the armed forces, head of state Dalia Grybauskaitė should have significant weight in proposing the candidate to be Minister of National Defence.

Last week it was announced that the Presidential Palace attempted to convince diplomats Gintė Damušytė and Asta Skaisgirytė-Liauškienė to take the psot. Both, however, denied having received such propositions.

Meanwhile the “Peasants” and SocDems mention the current Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who curates EU relations, Raimundas Karoblis.

Unsure on a candidacy

That the “Peasant” leader R. Karbauskis himself took up leadership in the Seimas Culture Committee shows that the majority intend to focus on culture a great deal.

Former culture attaché in Sweden and Denmark Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson, who currently works as the head of the Lithuanian Cinema Centre Film Distribution, Information and Heritage department has been identified as a candidate for the post of Minister of Culture since spring.

That said in recent days many majority representatives have left question marks when mentioning her surname in the post.

S. Skvernelis picking candidates himself

There is almost no doubt that S. Skvernelis, having worked in the post himself and knowing the subject area well, will pick the Minister of the Interior at his own discretion.

The PM has so far been rather unwilling to reveal who will be the head of the ministry.

Neither did he confirm longstanding talks that this key post could go to former Deputy Minister of the Interior Elvinas Jankevičius, who has worked together with Skvernelis. Jankevičius resigned from the post of deputy minister this spring, soon after Tomas Žilinskas was appointed minister, upon Skvernelis’ resignation.

Having resigned from the ministry, Jankevičius also left the Social Democrat party, though he was already included in the electoral roll.

On Tuesday evening talks spread in Seimas that E. Jankevičius’ candidacy for the post of Minister of the Interior is opposed by the head of state D. Grybauskaitė. Thus it cannot be ruled out that S. Skvernelis will have to seek another candidate. No doubt among the officers already working with the interior affairs system.

Some veterans of the Ministry of the Interior have mentioned they have heard mention of the name of Nerijus Meilutis, who was proposed to the seat of Chief Commissioner by D. Grybauskaitė last year.

Not all shadows vanish

Most realistically, the “Peasant” candidates for the posts heading the ministries of environment, healthcare and agriculture will remain.

The Ministry of Healthcare will likely be headed by medical psychiatrist Aurelijus Veryga.
There is little doubt that the seat of Minister of the Environment will go to the chairman of the Environmental Protection Organisation Coalition, Kęstutis Navickas, who has worked in the area of environmental protection since independence was re-established. He is strongly in favour of R. Karbauskis’ idea of moving the Ministry of the Environment to Kaunas.

The Ministry of Agriculture, which also is planned to move to Kaunas, will be offered up the Deputy Chairman of the Agriculture Chamber, member of Seimas Bronius Markauskas.

Ministry reorganisation planned

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is held to be one of the most important institutions responsible for strategic infrastructural projects being done in tandem with the EU.

It was long speculated, who could take the post. S. Skvernelis avoided speaking of it, but it appears that President Dalia Grybauskaitė‘s opinion may prove decisive once again.

A number of members of Seimas have stated that it is a public secret that Rokas Masiulis, seen as a protégée of the head of state, could trade the post of Minister of Energy for the post of Minister of Transport and Communications.

That said, the coalition plans to abolish the Ministry of Energy, it is just not clear whether its work will be transferred over to the ministries of economy or environment.

Who will receive two important posts?

Initially it was discussed that the Ministry of Education and Science could be headed by former Lithuanian Educology University History Faculty dean Eugenijus Jovaiša. He, however, has already been appointed the head of the Seimas Education and Science Committee.

His colleague Vilija Salienė has been mentioned as well, but her candidacy has also already been removed from the list.

Lately there have been talks that the important post could go to Vytautas Magnus University deputy rector, private law professor Julija Kiršienė.

The “Peasants” have another headache as well – who to appoint as the Minister of Social Security and Labour?

There have been talks that apparently the “Peasants” could offer their coalition partners the Social Democrats the chance to propose a candidate with the condition that they would leave the party. The Social Democrats view such theoretical considerations with a smile.

Social Democrats not confused

The Social Democrats found candidates for the posts they obtained through coalition negotiations rapidly.

The post of Minister of Economy was offered to Jonava region mayor Mindaugas Sinkevičius.
While none other than influential “Peasant” representative Povilas Urbšys expressed strong doubt in the reputation of candidate for Minister of Justice Darius Petrošius, it appears that the SocDems are not intent on seeking a replacement candidate.

D. Petrošius intends to take P. Urbšys to court over accusations of supposed connections with criminal elements in Tauragė and potentially illegal resale of real estate.

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