When looking at the political field for the last few days and the behaviour of the Prime Minister (PM) Saulius Skvernelis, political analysts say that he’s likely preparing for a higher post. Rimvydas Valatka and Paulius Gritėnas talked about this and the unique ability of Farmers and Greens to give up nearly all the election promises, talked in an LTR TV show „At the Centre of Attention”.
Mr. Gritėnas, there was a vote in the Parliament about transferring two Ministries transfer to Kaunas. Homeland Union proposed the bill but the Farmers and the Greens opposed, despite the fact that it was one of their election promises. What happened?
P. Gritėnas: It’s difficult to comment. This is another absurd case in a line of absurd decisions, when the new Government backs out of its promises. The idea was good, everyone agreed. It’s hard to say why it happened.
Maybe there is some kind of principle, because it was proposed by the Homeland Union and they would get the points?
Mr. Gitrėnas: Yes, these principles have dominated our political field in the last few months. A great example – Saulius Skvernelis, who stated that he won’t speak to Gintautas Paluckas out of principle. Ramūnas Karbauskis is not talking with anyone out of principle, since they have offended him. These policies interfere with the Government work. The idea to transfer the Ministries was good, there would be a solution but the inability to communicate is just killing the government.
Where should be the Labour Code added. During the campaign it was also one of the best arguments that we will change the Labour Code. Now it’s not even considered and amendments are just superficial. How do you assess this?
R. Valatka: Let’s add that the time ends this Friday for the Working Group created by the PM, which is restructuring universities. Perhaps we will hear the number 5. It means that Ramūnas Karbauskis refuses that, what helped him defeat Gabrielius Landspergis in the debate over the Universities of Klaipeda, and Šiauliai, which cease to exist. In other words, we have a unique power, which managed to give up all the promises within 5 months.
There are 5-6 per cent of loyal Farmers. For the rest, who voted for this party, it was a second choice between two evils. I remembered a theory of Mykolas Katkus, who is a public relations expert, that he Farmers were hit with the third stage of public relations when they failed, they got angry and are still angry now. They can’t even agree what not to talk about in public, since one says white, the other – black.
There is no party and the IQ is somewhere near Rima Baškienė. Everything is backwards. Online social networks laugh at the Minister’s Linas Kukuraitis public relations. Take me and present me in a good light to mommy. She will tell you that I behaved. Things like these are being done all over the world but when it’s done so sloppy, we can say that there are no professionals. We have the most unprofessional government since 1990, when people who never thought about politics came into power.
Some promises are being fulfilled. For example, fight with alcoholism, but the measures don’t find approval of the society. There’s no consensus?
R. Valatka: All measures will achieve one goal: they are going to drive alcohol into depth, the domestic consumption, because they will be ashamed, they won’t be able to drink beer or wine in public. The only way is to go to Poland and other neighbouring countries and buy boxes of alcohol and drink that at home with friends, neighbours or relatives. In other words, when we left this together with the Soviet Union, Aurelijus Veryga, Saulius Skvernelis and Ramūnas Karbauskis want ti return it.
P. Gritėnas: Before the election,s I wrote that the Farmers and Greens party don’t have values, but now I have to take it back, because they have no ideas or the ability to implement them. It is sad because, as Rimvydas [Valatka – LRT.lt] said, it was a second choice for a lot of voters. People thought that they are reasonable, centre-left, and agree with others despite who is in the Government: the Conservatives or Social Democrats.
Farmers themselves are in power and they have the majority but don’t agree amongst each other. This is absurd. They don’t need Gabrielius Landsbergis or Gintautas Paluckas to test their patience. They themselves manage to get out of balance. In the fight with alcohol there’s failure sin communication. Minister Veryga already is a joke and a curse for many people he is in favour of abstinence. In order to combat alcohol there is a need for good communication. And he became a joke. People stopped taking him seriously since he constantly talks about the same things. If we want to address the problem of alcoholism, we have to do that with people who hold authority in the public. However, the Government continues to waste authority.
R. Valatka: Measures should be aimed at those who are the most problematic, since statistics say that 10 percent of people in Lithuania drink more than one third of the total alcohol that is consumed. If a lot of people has syphilis, we would say that the best solution is castration. It would eliminate the problem? The problem of drinking in Lithuania is being solved in a similar manner.
Social Democrat issues. They elected a new chairman. Can it be a revival of the party of some sort?
P. Gritėnas: New chairman has a different position than we previously saw. He’s determined and tends to agree with the other party leaders and the party itself. Gintautas Paluckas is a new man, a new face, and that is very good. But the party remains unchanged. The question is whether the inside is changing? Will his election change the party’s position? During the election we heard that there had been forgery, unclear racket and more reminders about Paluckas criminal record.
Internal games in the party show that its history of nomenclature is still there. Not many are happy that Gintautas Paluckas stood to steer the party. Gabrielius Landsbergis and the liberals are very happy. On the one hand, it’s quite strange. It shows that the Social Democrats have problems of identity and the other parties is trying to use that and make them weaker. I think it will be quite a struggle.
Mr Valatka, is Gintautas Paluckas a figure that could revive the Social Democrats?
R. Valatka: I am skeptical for several reasons. First, Paluckas never one an elections on the scale of Lithuania. Second, it’s not enough to change the chairman of the party. Who owns the shares? If Paluckas would flee from the coalition, it would be very interesting whether the 19 members of Social Democrats in the Parliament would agree. I doubt it. Why should Mindaugas Sinkevičius withdraw from the post of Minister of Agriculture when Jonava has a new mayor? Now is the time when we have to follow whether the new chairman will be able to reform the party.
Do the Sauliaus Skvernelis arrogant remarks about both Gintautas Paluckas and other issues show some possible future political problems could happen because of his treatment of others?
P. Gritėnas: You could say that Saulius Skvernelis helped Gintautas Paluckas this week. He opened the door, when he decided to publicly ridicule him by saying that he is allegedly not worth to meet: he was not elected to the Parliament, there is a group which you can talk with. Such behaviour can cause him some problems. But the question is that he and his party have to agree. If you see him talking to Gabrielius Landsbergis more than with Ramūnas Karbauskis, the question arises who with the PM coordinates his actions. Is he a mediator, is he a definite leader that no one argues with?
Now the impression is that the PM raises questions, trying to make his group to accept the Government’s proposals. However, this is not a stable and long-term solution. What do you think?
R. Valatka: This is a non-political and non-professional approach. In politics the only way is to negotiate and re-negotiate, especially when the majority does not clear. Viktor Orban was crude in Hungary because they have an absolute majority. Jaroslaw Kaczynski can do the same in Poland, as he has the ability to pull all the strings. But when Saulius Skvernelis starts to behave arrogantly when, and sometimes he supports the opposition more than his own, it can only mean one thing – S. Skvernelis wants to jump to another post. I do not need it, I will be here as long as I need to. If necessary, I will cause a storm and jump into the Presidential race. Or he just has no clue where he is.
Politics is and art of exploitation and compromise. The Farmer group talk loudly that they are required to obey in the meetings with Saulius Skvernelis. The whole group is required to support. But perhaps this is not long-term?
P. Gritėnas: Saulius Skvernelis is not used to working on diplomatic terms, he needs to withstand even the pressure from the party. Eugenijus Jovaiša, chairman of the Science and Education Committee, decides for him. Then the PM has to shout about a scandal.
I agree that his desire to jump from one post to another is quite clear. I have the impression that Saul Skvernelis trying to act as the current President Dalia Grybauskaitė. But he forgets that he has to comply with the Government. Now we see that the fight to be first in decision making has already stated.
Saulius Skvernelis is playing in a way that he knows, like a former officer of law enforcement and representative of the justice system. It’s like this: my rank higher, I am a representative of the executive branch and you have to listen to me. However, this is not working. It is obvious that he even found a lot of enemies who might take advantage of his weakness.
I have already heard talks about the fact that Saulius Skvernelis, is looking for reasons to disagree with the position of Farmers and Greens, so that he could quit and look at the perspective of Presidential elections. What do you think of this?
R. Valatka: when observing the actions of S. Skvernelis, they seem rather audacious. There were several occasions this week when it seemed that he does not want to be in his post. The game is very slim . Today we don’t have an equal figure next to S. Skvernelis we have no equivalent figure, which could participate in the elections.
– If the Presidential election took place today, would he win in the first round?
R. Valatka: Yes. On the other hand, when you behave like a President, sometimes in life it’s impossible. Those who play politics are always playing by the rules. The Lithuanian problem is that we get those to the top, who want to play football with hands and basketball with feet.