Sun sets on traditional parties

Political parties do not have a future because they are structures from a past stage, political scientist Lauras Bielinis tells LRT Radio. The same is echoed by others talking to LRT Radio. According to Mykolas Romeris University docent Vytautas Dumbliauskas, parties were always at the bottom of the ratings, thus the processes happening now are simply the expression of the party system’s crisis, writes.

He is convinced that the committees being formed in various regions right now are a certain expression of the party system’s crisis: “We all know that ever since Lithuania gained independence, ever since sociological surveys were started, party popularity has remained at the bottom in those ratings.”

According to V. Dumbliauskas, committees merge two interests in this situation – people’s discontent with parties and the unwillingness of separate politicians to associate with parties, while also wanting to be in power. In this case, V. Dumbliauskas states, committees are namely an excellent means for politicians with such goals.

“I believe that several interests coincide here. However, a serious question arises, one to which I still have no answer – how will those civic electoral committees influence the party system. SO far we only see expansion. This is also evident in the case of the Liberals – politicians are leaving based on names,” V. Dumbliauskas says.

He wonders, if only a politician’s name remains, what are the values these politicians represent: “Of course, all those liberals, who left their party, say they are all for the values, that liberalism is close to their hearts and that they will always work toward those ideas, but in essence these are personal interests, a desire to remain in power. The party was a means to an end. This means has turned ineffective and thus, these people, who view themselves as politicians worthy of being in power, are taking up a different means.”

Lietuvos Rytas analyst Vytautas Bruveris also holds a similar position. According to him, electoral committees can be seen as an opportunity to obtain more direct democracy than so far, however they also pose a threat.

“This system is dangerous in that even more completely random people enter power and these individuals are completely unaccountable, at least based on current Lithuanian legislation or lack thereof,” V. Bruveris highlights.

He adds that he does not see any particular risks if committees were better regulated by law: “If we set clear accountability and regulation for these matters, then why not? But I would first look at this as perhaps a traditional political scientist, along the lines of this being the decline of traditional politics.”

V. Bruveris echoes V. Dumbliauskas that most often, those creating such committees are simply seeking an easier way into politics. “We can see that most of those committees, be they in Vilnius or in other cities, they are simply chasing conjecture, large and unclear interest groups, which seek an easier way to enter power, gathering up arithmetic numbers as fast as possible,” he says.

Vytautas Magnus University professor L. Bielinis emphasises – democratic processes usually seek for the public to act responsibly and actively in its country from the lowest to the highest level. However, what is being discussed now is not at all such.

“We talk now how we wish for those representing us to be very accountable. And we should just sit on our hands? Yes, I agree that in a large part the committees are now simply assembled by inviting from above, but in essence, we have to realise (this is my personal opinion) – political parties do not have much of a future. They are structures of a past industrial society intended for political action,” L. Bielinis states.

According to him, the current pursuit of committees and other political processes can be associated with low civic activity: “While civic activity remains low at eh bottom, we will continue to have various entities imposed from above: parties, committees, whatever else. When civic activity becomes truly significant and influential, then the same political structures will obtain completely different quality and will have a completely different meaning to us as a state.”

L. Bielinis points out that while for many committees may appear to be temporary groups, there are more than 70 parties registered in Lithuania and most of them were formed in just the same way for the same goals.

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