Social Democrat rebels are not yielding

The Ethics and Procedures Commission of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party on 7 October
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

The Social Democrat rebels, whom the party ethics commission has proposed to remove from the party, are not yielding and still have aims to appeal to their fellow party members.

“I believe that is why this question’s resolution is being rushed so that our regular party members would not change their position. This is also why the presidium meeting and party council are being organised so efficiently though I do not believe it will benefit the party,” Irena Šiaulienė, one of the Seimas Social Democrat group members who chose to remain in the coalition said on Monday after meeting with other group members in Seimas.

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The Social Democrats mentioned that they will try to appeal to fellow party members prior to the party council meeting.

“After the Commission of Ethics and Procedures, we should explain and talk a little about it. (…) We will release our statement as usual and that’s it,” I. Šiaulienė said, though not revealing what the statement’s content will be.

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According to her, the decision making within the party is being rushed. Supposedly after the party’s decision to depart the coalition government, the question could have been discussed after the New Year.

“But it was quickly fired up here and regardless of all argument and attempts to offer alternatives, this path was taken and after the decision, when we are nearing the final point according to party management’s logics, the process is being rushed,” I. Šiaulienė said.

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The member of Seimas herself does not reveal which path she is more in favour of – to leave the party or await the council ruling.

“I feel calm because I do not feel I am doing anything illegal,” I. Šiaulienė said.

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Calling the party rulings illegal

Social Democrat veteran Juozas Bernatonis explained that the Social Democrat parliamentarians will discuss how to respond to the Commission of Ethics and Procedures ruling during the party Seimas group meeting on Tuesday morning. During the Monday meeting a number of them just exchanged opinions.

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He described the party’s decision regarding abolishing the ruling coalition illegal “because there was no consideration of the statutory breaches made when the respective council ruling was made.”

Without going into detail he also explained that the members being discussed did not appear at the commission meeting on Saturday for various reasons.

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“However I would like to say that it was simply a farce because it was decided ahead of time, the chairman had said that he will remove us from the party and the Commission of Ethics and Procedures is simply performing its certain role,” J. Bernatonis said.

When asked whether it’s better to withdraw voluntarily or wait for dismissal, the social democrat stated that the difference is only in the time period before one can return to the party.

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“I simply do not know. Based on the statute, if you withdraw yourself, you can return after two years, if you are removed – after three. But there is not much difference because already after two years I think much will have changed in the party,” J. Bernatonis said.

During this period he predicts ideological changes in the party. “Over two years much can change, I believe that there will be changes in our party. I see certain ideological changes because a very radical leftist manifesto has been declared, it has nothing to do with social democracy,” J. Bernatonis criticised.

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He had no doubt that even if removed, the parliamentarians in Seimas will continue to call themselves social democrats.

“We are social democrats, Mr. Paluckas can take my party ID card, but he cannot change my views,” J. Bernatonis said, though adding that there have yet to be talks of how exactly the group could call itself.

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The Lithuanian Social Democrat Party Commission of Ethics and Procedures, which met on Saturday, recommended to remove the party’s members of Seimas, who opposed withdrawing from the coalition, from the party. The final ruling over the sanction will be made by the party council which will be called by the party presidium which will gather on October 10.

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