President Nausėda faces a wave of criticism

Gitanas Nausėda
Gitanas Nausėda DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

The cart is being pulled by nigh on equal forces in different directions, thus it’s shaking and remaining in one place. Such a means of transportation is comparable to our current state leadership, Vytautas Bruveris writes in

The main process, which with politics entering autumn could grow stronger, is fragmentation.

Confrontations on important political questions are flaring up over both political opponents and those, who should seemingly be partners.

In its own way, it is illustrated by the epic regarding the commemorative plaque to former Nazi administration official and anti-Soviet resistance figure J. Noreika – General Vėtra, which has reached new heights of absurdity.

As one could have expected, instead of the plaque secretively removed in the early hours of one morning at the command of the Vilnius mayor, individuals, who have declared themselves the defenders of Lithuania’s historical memory have hung their own. The municipality, the police and the Department of Cultural Heritage have yet to be able to answer on whether this was done legally and if not – then who and when should do what.

President G. Nausėda, who took to resolving the conflict at the highest level, has declared that namely, the national government should set equal criteria to municipalities on what commemorative signs can be legalised.

However, the director of the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania R. Žakaitienė immediately declared that this is interference with the municipalities’ autonomy. This was not the only rebuke to the head of state this week.

Promises of the welfare state

Already before becoming president, economist G. Nausėda promised to be especially active in the economic policy sphere and use this activity primarily to create welfare for the state.

In an effort to demonstrate that he performs his promises, the president presented a number of proposals for taxes and fiscal policy, which according to him, should reduce poverty and social exclusion.

He proposed to earmark a not so fatefully massive sum, 100 million euro, for social security, primarily pensions next year.

Most of these funds were proposed to be gathered by slowing down the growth of the untaxed income size (NPD), also by halving the tax exemption on diesel fuel, which is applied to farmers. The third source is greater taxation of income received outside of labour relations (individual business activity, capital growth, dividends).

Another proposal by G. Nausėda, clearly intended as political advertising is to grant parents raising not just two, but also just one child extra days off.

It is ironic, but nigh on the fiercest in their rush to criticise of the president, were his former colleagues – experts from commercial foreign banks. They concluded that in order to progress toward a welfare state, we need to perform fundamental reforms and not play around with parents’ days off or simply reshuffle sums that do not hold major macroeconomic weight from one pocket to another.

The farmers obviously were outraged by intentions to reduce their exemptions – apparently, even without this, their competitive capacities in the European Union are continually reduced.

Some farmer leaders even declared that G. Nausėda tricked them – promised to do no harm prior to the elections, but is now acting the opposite, even though they voted for this president.

But Skvernelis has different plans

“Farmer” leader R. Karbauskis remained demonstratively silent after the proposal to slash exemptions for farmers, but it is not difficult to guess, what this landowner thinks about it.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister S. Skvernelis received these proposals from G. Nausėda more sceptically than supportively. According to him, the cabinet has already decided to raise the NPD less than planned earlier, but still more than the president proposes. As for the farmer exemptions, they would remain.

What is interesting is that Minister of Finance V. Šapoka was particularly critical of G. Nausėda’s intentions, urging the president to take off his rose-tinted glasses because next year’s budget must be realistic. The president meanwhile retorted that the minister should study up on what a welfare state is.

The ruling majority itself is not united regarding social issues. For example, they once more clashed regarding children’s grants. The Ministry of Finance proposed to raise this to 60 euro next year, though, in the coalition agreement that was signed, the majority agreed it would reach 70 euro.

R. Karbauskis once more spoke about how there would still be discussions on this, Social Democrat Labour, who always aim to be the best friends of the small, were outraged by ministry officials, but the Order and Justice party took to the side of the ministry, not the children.

“Farmer” representatives even clashed on alcohol restrictions. PM S. Skvernelis declared this week that Minister of Healthcare A. Veryga’s plan to ban sales of alcohol also in outdoor and seaside cafés should be withdrawn. However, it is unclear still what this dispute will end with because A. Veryga is not intent on backing down and he has the support of R. Karbauskis.

Farmers and restrictions

If we are already seeing disputes on seemingly the “Farmers’” main speciality – restrictions, what political harmony or predictability can you even talk about?

The overall chaotic caricature you can expect of a new political season was further highlighted by the story of the Seimas speaker’s exit from the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union reaching its conclusion.

V. Pranckietis finally relinquished his party membership, but did not enter the ranks of other political powers. Quite the contrary, he declared that he would return to the “Farmers”, when R. Karbauskis is no longer among them because he views himself as a companion of S. Skvernelis.

The implication is that V. Pranckietis backs S. Skvernelis and his circle’s plans to strip the “Farmers’” steering wheel from R. Karbauskis’ hands or to enter the Seimas elections with their own party. However, both scenarios are still rather ethereal.

Thus, at least in the near future, the Seimas will be headed by a man, who does not represent and is not politically committed to anyone/

This is yet another exotic novelty in the history of Lithuanian politics, which citizens were presented by this term’s president. And most likely not the last.
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