Urbonaitė : I don‘t see anyone willing to burn their political careers

I. Šimonytė and G. Landsbergis. Photo R. Danisevičius @lrytas.lt

Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė’s statement that upon feeling that the Conservatives Seimas group no longer backs her, she would question her continued leadership of the cabinet has stirred significant emotions and debate. The statement was further amplified by a significant decline in both the prime minister and the ruling bloc’s ratings. That said, experts believe this is not a real intention, TV3.lt.

What would make the prime minister step down from her office and what are the main problems for the current government? Political scientists Bernaras Ivanovas and Rima Urbonaitė spoke at the tv3.lt portal’s show Dienos Pjūvis.

Could Ingrida Šimonytė resign and leave the post of prime minister? Is it a realistic scenario?

R. Urbonaitė: I struggle to imagine such a scenario. I understand that Ingrida Šimonytė’s words that “upon losing the group’s trust, I would definitely consider a potential resignation” might have sounded like a proclamation of sorts, but on the other hand, this is absolutely logical. If you lose the trust of the party that delegated you to the position of prime minister, then you naturally and factually resign.

However, this came to be interpreted on the public domain as something of a massive upheaval. But if we were to look at the real situation, then firstly – the Conservatives lack another individual who, in my opinion, could replace and capably replace Ingrida Šimonytė. Thus, I greatly doubt that such things could be real.

I think there is a great deal of exaggeration in this because the situation is actually as follows – the situation is critical, but I earnestly doubt we can expect a replacement for Ingrida Šimonytė and see few preconditions for it for the simple reason of – who could replace her? Thus far, I see no one willing to burn up their political career, which is what would likely happen to any replacement.

Ms Rima, in terms of the Conservatives Seimas group, could it be said that the Conservatives have their own “beavers” who hamper the cabinet’s work?

[Lithuania Tribune editor’s note: “Beavers” refers to entrenched and corrupt party officials. Initially, the concept emerged to describe certain figures in a variety of parties, but predominantly the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party. The concept of “beaver” referred to the moustaches many implicated individuals sported.]

R. Urbonaitė: I believe that this is a completely natural phenomenon in politics. This is because even in the previous term, there were all sorts of things in the “Farmer” group. Disagreements occurred even between the two main leaders – Saulius Skvernelis and Ramūnas Karbauskis. Just that they would get smoothed over, but now, we see those disagreements landing under the spotlight, they are no longer hiding anything.

I think that this is also very natural that it is impossible to reach a level of absolute support because parties hold numerous personalities, which inherently pre-programmes that there will not be any deification of Šimonytė that everyone bows down to. I think that the criticism could occasionally prove helpful because if they see any weaknesses, the very same group members will probably salt the wound. I think that in politics itself, it is nothing exceptional and this is a trend we see quite often – politics is always about conflicts.

The question is entirely different – how will these conflicts be resolved? This is a more complex question. Will you just scream loudly and even carry the scream out of your home or will you make use of the conflicts as a means to seek real solutions? If it is a conflict for the sake of conflict, that’s really bad. It will be interesting to see how these conflicts are resolved by the end.

Bernaras, perhaps the government is criticised without reason? Do you see any basis for the elevated levels of criticism?

B. Ivanovas: Vox Populi, Vox Dei, or so they say. The nation’s voice is always important, the most important in a democratic society. I think the core criticisms emerge because there is no plan. […] Indeed, we see the very same “Veryga-like” plan, which doesn’t work due to a simple reason – the stats don’t line up. Last spring, the statistics were of one sort and the plan of reducing restrictions, coordinating activities worked one way, but if we apply it to the current situation, it won’t function and that is quite evident.

Freezing the shopping centres is unprecedented in Europe, in the world. Realistically, no one had a quarantine like this, there were always brief reductions in restrictions and then closures again. Indeed, we are following the old and, I would say, flawed springtime example when it’s only restrictions and prohibitions, which were eventually exhausted.

And in this, I think we find distrust. To a great extent, distrust is a consequence of the same measures no longer working because the people do not believe in them. They say that it is illogical, akin to what was eventually conceded regarding the mobility restrictions.

Finally, our society is rather paternalistic. The discussions of the [Istanbul] convention, talks of partnership, they also bring some irritation. Thus, suma sumarum, I believe that everything combines to form such a negative perspective regarding the government.

Our society places great value on politicians such as Dalia Grybauskaitė where everything is in order, everyone put in their place, some shaking in their boots, some working and so on. Everything is clear, arranged and strict. There’s no particular strict line here.

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