Presidential elections: contemporary society is neither farmers, nor proletariat

Dr. Gintautas Mažeikis
Dr. Gintautas Mažeikis

I did not wish to criticise Vytenis Andriukaitis during the
presidential elections. I respect his decision to aid his party and social democracy by running in the presidential elections, while supporting the standard, even if boring, values and views. I believe his campaign was poor – the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party needs a significant renewal and improvement in its campaigning, mobilisation and public relations abilities.

I will try to picture what a left-wing candidate could have been.

One of the versions is a charismatic, young woman, who represents the new generation; one, who is acceptable to individuals with feminist and homosexual views (up to 10%!), who clearly and radically emphasises internationality (unlike the Conservatives and nationalists), one, who would be important to the party, would be of a sharp mind and good wit.

I believe that she would stem from the Lithuanian province and would retain connections to it (being from something like Plungė or Rokiškis region), but now lives in Vilnius. An unusual task for the LSDP, which still defends the nomenclature line.

Andriukaitis’ not the best candidate

It is unfortunate that the Social Democrats did not find a more suitable candidate. Contemporary society is not farms or proletariat, neither is it only the demeaned and hurt. No vagrant wishes to be demeaned and retains their dignity, as for public sympathy to the slighted – that’s more of a Christian, not social democratic or combative manner. It is amusing that nationalistic candidates operated based on the same rhetoric of the slighted.

Let us think, what the minimum winning conditions are. Firstly, you need the “miraculous” charisma, ability to lead, to fascinate, to excite; that is to say, a certain added energy. That’s a classic.

Second, you need a sharp and educated mind (the ability to participate in debates). V. Andriukaitis has enough of this, but is unable to display it. To pursue this, you need to read dialectics and study not to only talk, but also hear others.

Where is humor?

Third, the candidate needs a notable, but not vulgar, sense of humour. Humour is often a factor of charisma and a sharp mind. V. Andriukaitis and almost all the other candidates, bar Ingrida Šimonytė, lacked it. But I. Šimonytė made little use of it herself. Arvydas Juozaitis enjoyed speaking of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, but the latter would always joke. What of Juozaitis? Perhaps only to himself. And when you are told myths and accounting truths with a straight face, well… it’s not funny.

Fourth, you need tact, the ability to feel your environment – it is a mandatory diplomatic trait. But tact teaches something else – to be wisely tactless! That’s what contemporary media needs – measured tactlessness, limited political incorrectness.

Fifth, you must not lack courage to be notable and thus, somehow different, radical. Brussels and party bureaucracy have destroyed this ability in V. Andriukaitis and many others. A suit and television are no longer means of notability. It’s mundane now. It was boring to listen.

Lost opportunities

V. Andriukaitis and the Social Democrats did not use internationalism and the dual citizenship referendum for campaign purposes. Who else if not the international social democrats, who criticise the monopolies of national states, that can support the weakening of the state citizenship institution and the enabling of international professional cooperation. After all, the referendum questions were incomprehensible to most Lithuanian citizens, while the anti-referendum campaign was rather strong. Thus, V. Andriukaitis, a “simple son of the people”, could have made use of the lack of clarity for his own left-wing slogans.

I have told the Social Democrats many a time now – you must become just that. It is good that they shed the ideology of V. Butkevičius and G. Kirkilas’ LDDP and managed to consolidate the party (A. Sakalas, V. Andriukaitis and V. Blinkevičiūtė’s behaviour was very measured). Nevertheless, if the LSDP wants to achieve more significant results, it mustn’t play presidential elections without preparing well, without having suitable candidates and connection to the public practice.

What was good in V. Andriukaitis’ campaign? There were almost no ideological spectres.

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