The president read her ninth annual address yesterday. But this was only the first annual address by Dalia Grybauskaitė that she read without the crown of a lord. Speaking while looking at everyone from up high was side-lined. Thus, this address was comparably human.
Upon concluding that the party system crisis is worsening, the president, who had so far oft proudly declared that she makes no mistakes, admitted she was mistaken. True, she did so fairly evasively. Thus certainly not all listeners understood, what the head of state has in mind.
“We all painfully burned our fingers. Me included.” Expressed with difficulty,t his phrase was an allusion to the “tulip mail”, from which, as we know already, directives to the now accused Eligijus Masiulis flooded in, him being the intermediary between the president and MG Baltic.
For the first time ever the president dedicated so much attention to the parties and their deplorable state. One could even claim that the whole address was about parties. The head of state criticised electoral committees and warned the people of the danger these pose to the political system.
The impression is that D. Grybauskaitė only recently realised that democracy is impossible without parties. The scorn and bashing of which the head of state dedicated so much effort and time on.
However, even expressing naked, based on no further analysis of the situation hope that the country’s parties will renew and revive, the president proposed means, which would help the parties as if a compress for a corpse.
For example, other than the idealistic, certainly atypical for Grybauskaitė fervour for everyone to now volunteer to parties, the head of state urged the removal of party representatives from the Central Electoral Commission (VRK).
For someone distant from politics this could appear rational. In reality though, it would mean that the ruling majority thrusts it’s a la non-partisan people into the VRK – many many matjošaitytės. This would only serve to fuel the entrenchment of a single opinion and the erosion of parties.
Overall, this time the president’s address was not as dispassionate as in years before. We heard a number of vivid statements and comparisons.
For example, “Domestic policy could be compared to the Gediminas Hill, it isn’t holding up – cracking, falling and breaking down,” “Upon budging the top waters of political corruption, an “unseen Lithuania” opened up before us,” “The parliament – the bastion of our Freedom fights – is becoming a shooting range for attempts at people’s freedoms and democracy, from which only prohibit and punish is being released.”
This shows that this time the president gave much more freedom to her speech writer. How come, you may ask?
Figurative statements had to hide the eclectic nature of the statement and the president’s ambiguous position, which she was placed in with the “tulip mail” back stage being unveiled.
It would appear to have worked. The president dragged herself out of the swamp created by the parliamentary investigation and the “tulip mail”. Well, at least she managed to bypass the greatest depths of the swamp.
Especially given that the head of state accurately struck Ramūnas Karbauskis‘ majority in Seimas, emphasising that “the Seimas has become a place of antagonising the people,” “Parliamentary investigations are selective,” and that digging around in the past does not release the Seimas majority from solving today’s problems.
The deepest thrust of the sword to R. Karbauskis was the place dedicated to agriculture: “Land accumulation in single hands, promissory note business, uncontrolled acquisition of land, opaque distribution of EU funding, fictional farms and “sofa” farmers have led to disorder, anarchy and a distorted market. Some in the countryside are struggling to make a living at all, while others forget to declare transactions in the hundreds of thousands.”
However, the president mentioned no names this time. Thus every figure and especially one as cunning as R. Karbauskis, will be able to say and is already saying that this is not about him.
As in years before, D. Grybauskaitė said almost nothing of foreign and defence policy, only concluding already known facts.
If it were necessary to summarise in one sentence, this annual address was an effort of an anti-political politician, who is departing the stage, to rise to a higher level of politics. It succeeded in places. At the same time, they are very much belated.