Skvernelis’ faith in Karbauskis ruined by the latter’s plans with Nausėda

Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Peasants and Greens leader Ramūnas Karbauskis
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Having failed to have his political fellow passengers disembark from the government train, “Farmer” leader Ramūnas Karbauskis is starting to lose control of his own locomotive – increasingly, hints of a dramatic divorce are emerging, Tadas Ignatavičius wrote in news portal.

R. Karbauskis still tries to pretend he is under control, however it appears that power is increasingly sliding out of his hands. Just on May 28 evening, he explained that there will  be efforts to expand and strengthen the current ruling coalition, but on May 29 morning, it turned out that there is nothing left to reinforce.

Yesterday, Social Democrat Labour Party leader Gediminas Kirkilas declared that the ruling coalition is no more and that the government must be started anew.

The head of the Order and Justice party, which backed them since last autumn, Remigijus Žemaitaitis also noted he would only agree to take to the negotiating table under such conditions.

He does not even conceal that the desperate efforts of the “Farmers” to strengthen the ruling coalition is just a façade aimed at covering the drama of R. Karbauskis and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ diverging paths.

Meanwhile, Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union chairman Valdemar Tomashevski is not at all excited to join the ruling coalition.

Chairman senses danger

By the way, a potential divorce between the “Farmer” leader and the prime minister is accompanied by talks about infidelity.

According to Lietuvos Rytas sources, R. Karbauskis spoke up about expanding the coalition and seeking new partners upon sensing the risk that S. Skvernelis may withdraw or go ahead to start putting together the foundation of a new government without him.

The new arrangements are being spoke of ever more in the Seimas couloirs, however the potential new contours of it apparently are greatly dependent on President Elect Gitanas Nausėda as well – would he seek to retain the existing coalition or would he resolve himself for greater changes, which could leave not just S. Skvernelis, but also R. Karbauskis outside of power? Or perhaps just the latter?

Unofficial sources say that the prime minister is also eagerly awaiting a meeting with G. Naus4da, however so far, the newly elected head of state has not found time for his former election rival.

Sending signals to withdraw

Meanwhile, S. Skvernelis, who is considering withdrawing from the post of prime minister, is unwilling to reveal his future plans.

Quite the contrary, as of recently, the head of cabinet has been speaking in riddles more and more.

Some of the prime minister’s riddles may have left R. Karbauskis well confused. Due to this, on election night on Sunday, he seemed off balance and according to witnesses, hardly interacted with S. Skvernelis.

Of course, R. Karbauskis’ moods that evening were likely particularly poor due to the “Farmers’” poor performance in the European Parliament elections where they took only third place.

But even more than the failure to achieve a promised victory, the Seimas Committee of Culture chairman was likely irked by the prime minister’s open reprimands to the party.

On that day, S. Skvernelis proclaimed that he has other plans than the “Farmers” and their leader, who are meandering at the doorstep of power. The politician would not detail, what plans he has, but implied that they are not necessarily linked to the “Farmers”.

“Not necessarily. The “Farmer” party sometimes makes decisions that are rather unexpected or the party chairman makes an unexpected declaration.

It is very hard to speak about what the “Farmers’” plans are,” S. Skvernelis, cornered by R. Karbauskis’ peculiar manoeuvres, said.

Prior to the first round of the presidential elections, without coordinating with the prime minister, the Seimas group or party, R. Karbauskis threatened that the “Farmers” will withdraw from power if S. Skvernelis fails to reach the second round and the party does not win the European Parliament elections.

The “Farmer” leader assured that in such a case, S. Skvernelis will also resign from the post of prime minister. While later on the “Farmers” cooled off their leader, it is believed that such aims of his could have significantly harmed the prime minister’s presidential bid.

Prime minister suspects deceit

However, the prime minister is likely irate not only because of the hard to predict R. Karbauskis’ talks about handing over power to the opposition that may have harmed his campaign.

Some of those in the prime minister’s circle revealed to Lietuvos Rytas that S. Skvernelis shared with them suspicions that R. Karbauskis coordinated the withdrawal from power plan with G. Nausėda.

According to sources, information reached the prime minister about a meeting held behind his back, where the now president elect apparently convinced the “Farmer” leader that he would benefit if S. Skvernelis did not win the elections and remained in the office of prime minister.

Lietuvos Rytas sources say that the prime minister perceived this as a betrayal, which has demolished the remnants of his trust in R. Karbauskis.

“It is clear that S. Skvernelis is not overly keen to continue serving the capricious “Farmer” leader.

He does not see any signs that R. Karbauskis himself plans to withdraw and at the same time, he also does not see any reason to continue sinking with the “Farmers.” The prime minister hints that it is better to sink with your hands freed than in chains,” the prime minister’s close companions told Lietuvos Rytas.

Reminding that they won together

By the way, the head of cabinet reminded on Sunday evening that the last Seimas elections were not won by the “Farmers” solely on their own, but with a non-partisan bloc and thanked his comrades for their support.

S. Skvernelis also hinted that his future decisions will also depend on the Farmer-Greens themselves – whether changes happen, whether the party manages to renew itself, becoming modern and democratic.

The prime minister urged the party to open up and focus more on not only the regions, but also the major cities, as well as younger voters, who never experienced, what collective farms were.

While S. Skvernelis did not directly speak of the “Farmer” leader being replaced, the prime minister’s supporters in the largest Seimas group told Lietuvos Rytas that this was a hint to R. Karbauskis that he should resign from the post of party chairman.

Leader annoyed by questions

Sources in Seimas and the cabinet have also revealed that S. Skvernelis had already decided to become a member of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, later being the party’s frontrunner in the Seimas elections.

Only under one condition though – R. Karbauskis must take responsibility for electoral failures and resign from the post of party chairman. However, he seems to not have heard S. Skvernelis’ near overt signals.

R. Karbauskis is clearly increasingly annoyed by questions of whether he will uphold his promise, given following the European Parliament elections, to hold a vote of confidence in himself among the party.

S. Skvernelis too urged the “Farmer” leader to do so, but on Tuesday, R. Karbauskis expressed doubt on whether such a procedure will be needed, stating, “The party council will be held in the coming weeks, it will depend on how successful negotiations on an expanded coalition will go.

Respectively, we will also discuss preparations for the Seimas elections and other questions. I have some doubts on whether the question of confidence will arise.”

It is believed that just such a procedure would be unpleasant for R. Karbauskis, it would signal doubt in the party leader.

On the other hand, S. Skvernelis’ supporters concede that the chairman has a firm grip on the party and would likely win the secret ballot. Nevertheless, the prime minister repeated yesterday that he believes R. Karbauskis should test confidence in himself among the party.

The prime minister has indirectly confirmed, what Lietuvos Rytas sources in the “Farmer” Seimas group speak of: his membership in the Farmer and Greens Union is possible, however everything hinges on changes in the party itself.

By the way, Seimas Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis also believes such a vote of confidence should be held, assuring yesterday that R. Karbauskis is prepared to do it. That said, the party leader has long ceased to pay attention to V. Pranckietis’ encouragement and differing opinion.

Post sharing begins

With the composition of a new government launching, parties invited to the coalition have begun expressing their wishes regarding ministries.

However, neither S. Skvernelis, nor R. Karbauskis reveal, how the future negotiations may end because according to sources in the “Farmer” group, they themselves apparently are unsure.

R. Karbauskis was only in a rush to report to BNS yesterday that the termination of the coalition agreement was a decision made by the “Farmers” themselves, stating, “I invited the leaders of three parties to begin negotiations on forming a new coalition agreement. The existing agreement is terminated.”

S. Skvernelis described such a move as being logical and believes that it shouldn’t hamper work in Seimas. The PM also believes that the object of these negotiations is all posts – both in cabinet and Seimas.

Various scenarios

It is hinted that the negotiations should be concluded by the time the new head of state swears in on July 12. However, what the result of the negotiations may be is currently not being spoken of.

In political couloirs, various scenarios are being modelled, but there are few realistic ones: a broad coalition with S. Skvernelis in the office of prime minister and the same PM’s minority cabinet.

That said, in both cases, these scenarios have many negatives and ambiguities, with the main doubt being whether S. Skvernelis will choose to remain on the same boat with R. Karbauskis, who is not yielding his party leader position, and the “Farmers”, who have been sinking into a political abyss.

 S. Skvernelis apparently intends to make a decision on this next week, before going on a holiday he has planned starting June 7. There are talks that the prime minister is unsure because if he chooses to remain in the office of prime minister, he will inevitably face criticism for not upholding his pledge to resign.

Furthermore, the head of cabinet is apparently tormented by doubts on his own dubious political future – both if he chose to remain with the “Farmers” and if he withdrew from their Seimas group.

In such a case, questions would emerge, with whom S. Skvernelis and his team would participate in the coming elections – would they accompany some other party or would they try to create their own? But would there be enough time up to the elections to create a new political power and where would they get the funding?

Nevertheless, an even darker scenario, if S. Skvernelis chose to abandon the “Farmer” ship, looms for R. Karbauskis.

In such a case, the “Farmer” leader would have to find not only a new prime minister, but also secure enough votes in Seimas to approve the candidacy. However, there are doubts of what politician would want to jump to the sinking “Farmers’” rescue with just a little over a year to the next Seimas elections.
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