Skvernelis glancing at Karbauskis’ throne, already arranging 2020 election strategy

Skvernelis and Karbauskis
Skvernelis and Karbauskis DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Saulius Skvernelis would like not only the office of prime minister, but also the status of “Farmer” leader. But even failing to obtain the latter, he will likely remain in charge of the cabinet. Such assumptions are supported by political arrangements, Tada Ignatavičius and Vytautas Bruveris writes in

On May 30, the cabinet building featured a meeting between the “Farmer”, Social Democrat Labour and Order and Justice leaders Ramūnas Karbauskis, Gediminas Kirkilas and Remigijus Žemaitaitis. They were all treated to lunch by S. Skvernelis.

After rising from the lunch table, the politicians declared they had signed a memorandum on the creation of a new ruling coalition, to which they also invite the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union [LLRA-KŠS].

Already speaking offices

The Seimas groups of the three signatory parties have a total of 69 mandates in Seimas and with the LLRA-KŠS joining, they would then have a firm 77 vote majority.

LLRA-KŠS leader Waldemar Tomaszewski has yet to confirm whether they will join the coalition, only stating that there’s time until the 12th of July to decide.

At that point, the current cabinet will have to return its authorisation to the new President Gitanas Nausėda.

Social Democrat Labour will be aiming for three minister offices, primarily – Social Security and Labour, which is currently held by the “Farmers”. Meanwhile, Order and Justice would like two offices.

Doubts regarding V. Pranckietis

There will also be negotiations regarding the office of Seimas speaker, which is currently held by “Farmer” Viktoras Pranckietis.

However, the politician himself remarked that the speaker is elected for the full four year term and his fate does not depend on political winds, but rather a vote of confidence.

R. Karbauskis, recalling that V. Pranckietis has rebelled a number of times before, stated that the Seimas majority can replace the speaker with ease.

However, after lunch at the cabinet, the “Farmer” leader was more lenient and explained that the Seimas speaker office must remain with their party and would continue being held by V. Pranckietis.

That said, Social Democrat Labour are not convinced by such plans, with their leader G. Kirkilas eyeing the seat.

On May 30 evening, it was decided: the three party coalition memorandum specifies that Saulius Skvernelis remains prime minister, while the office of Seimas speaker goes to the Social Democrat Labour Party. While V. Pranckietis immediately declared he would not resign, R. Karbauskis urged the politician to act appropriately and not make a fool of himself.

Viktoras Pranckietis, Saulius Skvernelis, Ramūnas Karbauskis
Viktoras Pranckietis, Saulius Skvernelis, Ramūnas Karbauskis DELFI / Domantas Pipas
Reticent on the future

Nevertheless, the greatest intrigue of the changes is S. Skvernelis’ fate. Personally, he stated yesterday that he will declare his decision after meeting G. Nausėda on Friday.

It would be hard to comprehend, if the prime minister, bearing the backing of the Seimas majority and new ruling coalition, would not remain in his office.

However, he has earlier promised to resign and even hinted that he may leave the “Farmers’” ranks.

Yesterday, S. Skvernelis was reticent on his future, spoke about “red lines”, which he would not cross in forming a new cabinet.

Who resigns first?

Potential future scenarios were discussed in the Lietuvos Rytas television show Ne Spaudai with the prime minister’s advisor Skirmantas Malinauskas.

According to him, all three elections this spring were unsuccessful to the “Farmers” and currently their main concern would be their performance in next year’s Seimas elections.

According to S. Malinauskas, the party could perform even worse in the coming elections if it does not change.

At this point, the advisor stressed that S. Skvernelis is the only leader not only in the “Farmer” ranks, but also the entire centre left, who still has greater voter support than before.

According to S. Malinauskas, the same approach as in 2016 (R. Karbauskis as chairman and S. Skvernelis as a non-partisan frontrunner in the electoral roll) is no longer an option because “it won’t work.”

According to the prime minister’s advisor, the party should decide itself to organise new chairman elections, where S. Skvernelis would participate as well.

However, R. Karbauskis is currently not planning to do so, despite admitting yesterday that the prime minister is proposing to change and renew the party, all the way to its name.

Nevertheless, is it realistic that S. Skvernelis would resign from the prime minister’s office and even the “Farmer” camp?

“A breakup is possible, however at the same time it is the worst case scenario for both S. Skvernelis and the party,” S. Malinauskas said.

However, he mused that in creating his own movement, S. Skvernelis and R. Karbauskis could even make peace, joining together votes won in the Seimas elections and their forces.

However, this scenario is hardly likely, the prime minister’s advisor believes.
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