Urbonaitė: group coalitions devalue the role of parties

Rima Urbonaitė
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Ramūnas Karbauskis‘ words that his Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union will never be in a coalition with parties that have issues with law enforcement may end up being just talk because in reality, coalition negotiations with the Order and Justice group are proceeding. What is more, R. Karbauskis already promises them the post of Seimas deputy speaker, even if Order and Justice chairman Remigijus Žemaitaitis assures that they have not been asking for posts, only support for 15 demands, most of which have already been agreed on, lrt.lt writes.

The new coalition could be formed already this autumn. It appears that the lack of votes is starting to become painful for the “Farmers” and they are offering coalitions to those they were previously harsh critics of. This was discussed on the LRT Television show Savaitė with Mykolas Romeris University political scientist Rima Urbonaitė.

The expert points out that we certainly cannot forget R. Karbauskis’ phrase that there cannot be any coalition with Order and Justice or Labour solely because they have law enforcement problems, which neither he, nor his party can tolerate. Recent meetings have revealed that the “Farmers” need for votes could become painful, being in a “grey zone” where there is instability and lack of agreement with the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Order and Justice, which leads to risks in every vote.

The two sides have exchanged pointed rhetoric over time and even this case of coalition talks with the “Farmers” was spurred on, according to R. Žemaitaitis, by the prime minister and not R. Karbauskis. In this respect, R. Urbonaitė notes, “You see, when it is specifically the cabinet’s initiatives that are bogged down in the Seimas swamp, it is natural that the prime minister, who carries the weight and responsibility for the cabinet’s work effectiveness, seeks to stir and order that swamp somewhat. Of course, I do not think that this action was completely uncoordinated and undiscussed, I see that nevertheless in the group negotiations proceeded and it would appear that they see inevitability.”

In terms of the Order and Justice – “Farmer” potential cooperation being related to Rolandas Paksas potentially running for president and needing support, the political scientist highlights that the negotiations are centred around R. Žemaitaitis rather than R. Paksas, while the relations between the two are poor. As such, she doubts this could be an object of negotiations. Furthermore, in her opinion, R. Paksas’ participation seems destructive and chaotic to the “Farmers” unless they care not about potential consequences to themselves and the entire political field.

The discussion in this case is of a Seimas group coalition, rather than party coalition. R. Urbonaitė points out, “Here of course what we have are the grimaces of what people view as the political process, how people understand the importance of political parties themselves in the political system because in essence what is being done now, when it is not a coalition of parties, but Seimas groups is devaluing the role of parties even further. Along this we have all sort of initiatives appearing to finance based on Seimas groups, to make things convenient for some. Thus, we will certainly have to see, what will happen here, but for now those trends, looking more globally, not just at this episode, but also potential further consequences leave no room for celebration because political parties are not strengthened this way. But we have known this for a long time because even when the “Farmers” were coming, they brought the creation of a myth – we are like a party, but not a party.”

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