The opposition carriage might not hold up – internal bickering has dug a deep crisis pit

Skvernelis and Karbauskis
Skvernelis and Karbauskis

Mutual bickering might be an even more important and time-consuming activity than opposing the ruling block. After going down this path, it appears that the Seimas opposition might be unable to escape it until the end of term, reported.

The so-called centre-left camp represented by the “Farmers”, Labour and Social Democrats is struggling to escape crisis. This was most clearly reflected in the Seimas elections last year. These parties are predominantly struggling over the same voters, but none of them has been able to gain new momentum, with them all lacking ideas and leaders who could help regain popularity and seats in government.

The Social Democrats’ behaviour is a clear reflection of how a deficit in voters is making the current opposition prioritise struggling with one another instead of the right-wing government. This party, unable to emerge out of its leadership crisis, immediately clearly distanced itself from the “Farmers” and Labour, refusing to join coalition cooperation with these powers.

The Social Democrats’ logic is as follows – first, it is necessary to rebuild our identity and appeal to leftist voters and this is a matter of life and death for them to handle on their own.

Meanwhile, retracting into the shadow of the “Farmers” who currently have an advantage over the other left-wing parties and renewed ties to Labour would fundamentally undercut such efforts and would completely drown the Social Democrats.

Furthermore, a new wave of internal struggles is nearing the leftist camp. This is indicated by the candidacies of J. Olekas and V. Blinkevičiūtė to the post of Social Democrat party chairperson.

Are the “Farmers” and Labour, having finally glued together an opposition coalition, faring any better? Hardly.

While the irreplaceable leader of the Labour Party, V. Uspaskich, was able to resurrect his pet project from the ashes and reclaim its status as a parliamentary power, it is evident that this recovery is just a shadow of former glory. The party and its leader are well spent and most voters likely only voted for them because they did not find either the Social Democrats or the “Farmers” appealing, while “Order and Justice” who once competed with Labour have now been consigned to oblivion.

It should probably come as no surprise that discontent with V. Uspaskich as well is rising in the Labour camp, with him fundamentally exploiting the party as a vehicle to carry him into another term at the European Parliament. It cannot be dismissed that the efforts of at least some of the party’s Seimas group to oppose the chairman could lead to a schism.

The situation is also dangerous within the ranks of the “Farmers”, who continue to lay claim to the crown of the main centre-left party. After their loss in the Seimas elections, this party appears exhausted and lingering tensions between R. Karbauskis and S. Skvernelis could lead to their final divorce.

R. Karbauskis categorically opposed S. Skvernelis’ attempts to put together not just a full opposition coalition but also a joint shadow cabinet. The “Farmer” leader likely was unwilling to see the former prime minister obtain an elevated political status and significance this way. Furthermore, R. Karbauskis tried to display to S. Skvernelis, who is the real master of the party, declaring that the former PM is “appointed” the shadow prime minister of the “Farmers” and must execute their will.

With the ambitious S. Skvernelis retorting that he will not do so, R. Karbauskis, having already escaped Seimas, declared himself the shadow prime minister and formed a shadow cabinet without a single more notable member of the former prime minister’s team.

It comes as no surprise that murmurs once again intensified within the party that S. Skvernelis and his team have, this time have fully resolved to abandon the “Farmer” ship and create a long-planned movement or party. This would supposedly occur with the municipal and European Parliament elections drawing closer.

With divergences increasing between these politicians, R. Karbauskis’ discontent could also be incited by how in seeking to push S. Skvernelis into the margins, he made a major miscalculation. After all, when the “Farmers” and Labour formed an opposition coalition in Seimas, being left as its shadow prime minister, R. Karbauskis became even less significant than before.

By the way, there are talks behind the scenes in Seimas that R. Karbauskis sought to prevent S. Skvernelis from becoming opposition leader – this was supposedly one of the reasons why the parties’ coalition negotiations stalled.

R. Karbauskis and V. Uspaskich’s personal antagonism, with the latter having mocked the “Farmer” leader a number of times, might have been another obstacle.

One of the Labour Party’s leaders in Seimas, the parliament’s Vice Speaker A. Mazuronis, has recently publicly stated that R. Karbauskis is continuing to act against S. Skvernelis. This was supposedly indicated by the “Farmer” leader’s most loyal companion, A. Širinskienė, acting against Labour member V. Gapšys.

A. Širinskienė referred to attorneys when it was found that V. Gapšys, as a member of Seimas, began pressuring the Ministry of the Environment when it was drafting a legal claim valued in the millions against the company Grigeo Klaipėda for the pollution of the Curonian Lagoon. The attorney office Glimstedt, which is defending this company, has paid V. Gapšys wages, as well as defended the Labour Party in the potential political corruption case.

When A. Mazuronis described such actions as “nonsense” and R. Karbauskis seeking to harm the Seimas opposition leader, A. Širinskienė retorted that the “Farmers” would not allow themselves to become a cover for Labour’s corrupt stains.

In other words, it cannot be ruled out that the opposition coalition, unlike the ruling coalition, might fail to endure to the end of the Seimas term.
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