Political scientists on Skvernelis’ move: what was expected and what future is predicted

Saulius Skvernelis.By Lukas Balandis, 15min.lt

The future and political success of the politicians who broke away from the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) will depend on their ability to garner support and find their niche, political scientists say, Austėja Masiokaitė-Liubinienė rites in lrytas.lt

“You can currently only say that the “Farmer” Seimas group has weakened. As for the new group’s future, it is early to discuss it because this will depend on various factors and on how they fare in positioning themselves in regards to the ruling bloc and overall if it will become an independent political power for the next Seimas elections or if changes of some sort will happen, a merger with some other political entity,” Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science political scientist Ramūnas Vilpišauskas told BNS.

War Academy political scientist Jūratė Novagrockienė says that in order to become a significant political power in the elections, the group’s members will have to garner more widespread support.

“What comes next is entirely unpredictable. In order to create an entity and prepare for the coming elections, be they the European Parliament ones, the municipal elections or the Seimas elections, for that you need more backing, a larger organisation,” she spoke.

R. Vilpišauskas also says that the new political entity’s resources and its chosen ideology will play a major role.

An expected decision

Both political scientists agree that this decision was not unexpected. It was a discussion topic for some time now and the situation was further escalated by “Farmer” leader Ramūnas Karbauskis’ statements and efforts to eliminate those thinking differently.

“It was evident that the disagreements exist, that they are deepening and that there is a cleansing within the party. I think that it was very unacceptable that the party essentially changed its direction. Naturally, Tomas Tomilinas’ very open criticism ensued,” J. Novagrockienė said.

She observed that the “Farmer” group has seen the departure of figures with political experience, as well as young politicians with potential and so, the party lost out in this specific situation.

“There is immediately only one face left – R. Karbauskis. And he isn’t even in Seimas. The party weakened and secondly, the opposition has become even more divided,” she noted.

Nevertheless, the political scientist sees this as an opportunity for the new group to unify the opposition and display leadership.

“The new group’s face, with the mixed Seimas members group’s people added, is sufficiently appealing and looks fresher. And when there’s something new, it can be appealing to voters,” the political scientist said.

J. Novagrockienė believes that the problems of political morals and constructive criticism being put forward by the politicians are also appealing, which also provides the group with opportunities to interact with all opposition parties.

“The “Farmers” could be left isolated in the opposition,” she observed.

Need to find a niche

R. Vilpišauskas believes that while the new group has brought together a variety of different politicians, they have better odds of coming to terms than if they remained with the “Farmers” where ideological divides were becoming increasingly evident.

“What’s probably important is that these divides will likely be lesser than if they remained in the entity they were part of before. In the latter, particularly in terms of identity politics questions, both in terms of partnership and in terms of other questions at hand, the positions were vastly different and I think that this was one of the main reasons for this schism,” he spoke.

J. Novagrockienė points out that the new grouping will need to find its position on the political map and become a clear alternative.

“They are currently from several different directions right now and not because these people came from different groups but because the niche they could occupy is currently not entirely clear,” she said.

Ten members of parliament announced on Tuesday that they are leaving the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Seimas group. These ten include former Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, former Minister of Social Security and Labour Linas Kukuraitis and former Seimas Vice Speaker Rima Baškienė. The Democrat Group “In the Name of Lithuania” will also feature Vytautas Bakas, Domas Griškevičius, Rūta Miliūtė, Laima Mogenienė, Laima Nagienė, Lukas Savickas, Algirdas Stončaitis, Zenonas Streikus, Tomas Tomilinas and Algirdas Butkevičius.

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