V. Uspaskich is returning. Will his plans come to fruition?

Viktoras Uspaskichas
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

The Labour Party must once more enter parliament and participate in governance, furthermore it must have constant and clear changes in chairpersons, MEP Viktor Uspaskich tells LRT.lt. Political analysts say that with the Social Democrats breaking apart and the “Farmers” bleeding voters, V. Uspaskich to the Labour Party may be meaningful.

Labour Party founder V. Uspaskich announced a month ago that he would participate in the party chairman elections. The congress where the party’s new leader is to be elected should happen on January 6. There are talks that the congress should also make decisions on cooperation with other parties. BNS writes that currently some 10 candidates have been proposed for party chairman, however they are currently not revealed to the public.

V. Uspaskich himself has told LRT.lt that the congress will improve on the party council, presidium and statute: “There was a sort of intermediary management there which hit a dead end, would not manage to gather neither presidium, nor council, nor call party congress based on the statute. Everything will be fine once this is all rectified. And it will likely be the next congress where we will elect the next party chairman.”

He states that he will participate in the elections, but immediately adds that the chairman must not be permanent.

“I am returning at this time to help the party stand up on its feet again. We have to talk openly in the party, so that chairmen would not be coincidental, but for example the party chooses 3-5 candidates, can chance chairmen and do so openly. For example British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that he was leaving and it is necessary to prepare a transfer of power. And then the party and its leader changed in a day. This is a civilised process we should also have. I will present this proposal to the party, that we would not be secretive about what will follow, that it would be clear and everyone would know what will happen, what the policy and programme will be,” V. Uspaskich told LRT.lt.

The politician also outlined goals for the party – it apparently should return to parliament. “It definitely has to return to parliament, become a parliamentary party and participate in the national political arena. It has to be rated, has to have a clear programme, participate in state governance,” V. Uspaskich stated.

The string of lawsuits has greatly harmed the Labour Party, the MEP explains, adding that in the end, however, everything depends on the people. “When I was party chairman, I took the party to first place in the multi-mandate district twice. In 2012 when the lawsuit was at its peak, I managed to take the party to first place in the multi-mandate district. This shows that the public does not believe everything, not everyone believes the lies that are presented by opponents or news media,” V. Uspaskich continued.

During his interview with LRT.lt, Uspaskich revealed that he intends to call former comrades to join in on the party’s work. “But I will only discuss this when I am chairman. I do not intend to speak of names ahead of time,” the Labour Party’s founder said.

Meanwhile he promises to participate in Lithuanian political life more actively when he is elected chairman. If he does not win the elections, V. Uspaskich states he does not plan to actively participate in state politics. If he becomes chairman once more, V. Uspaskich stated he would remain working at the European Parliament.

Analysts: the Labour Party has chances to return to parliament with V. Uspaskich

Political analyst Virginijus Savukynas says that the latest Seimas elections and what followed them shows that the Labour Party is no party without V. Uspaskich.

“Why did V. Uspaskich choose to return? Because he saw a niche and it appeared when the SocDems fractured. It is clear that their and the Labour Party’s electorates are linked. With the weakening of the Social Democrat Party, who will take over their voters? There is the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS), but V. Uspaskich can also use this. LVŽS voters range from left to right, thus it is hard to say which will turn away from this party, but V. Uspaskich can see that the “Farmers” are not doing all that well and there is an opportunity to compete over those voters.

His rebirth in terms of image may be very successful because this is a person who has gone through purgatory. The lawsuits have ended. He has made his conclusions, shed the sinful lifestyle – no longer drinking alcohol, living healthy, speaking of spirituality. How he speaks is another matter, but he speaks of it now. Saul turned into Paul and it may be a greatly renewed, different V. Uspaskich who extremely appealing to voters,” V. Savukynas predicted.

According to the political analyst, the Labour Party was in court for many years, but the party continued to perform in elections. “So now when everything ended, I believe that it will have absolutely no impact. Of course political opponents will always remind of it, but when so many parties have troubles with the law nowadays…” V. Savukynas said.

Meanwhile Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) professor, political scientist Algis Krupavičius states that the “black bookkeeping case” will always trail behind V. Uspaskich. “That case would harm more sometimes and harm less during others, depending on how relevant it was to the political discourse. Second is to what extent it appeared important compared to other problems.

But most likely it is not the shadow of the “black bookkeeping” that is most important. V. Uspaskich has declared his return, but it is unclear why he is returning. Most likely the party has fallen apart greatly and there is a lack of new goals and positions. Furthermore while V. Uspaskich announced his return, there have been no more serious actions. When the Labour Party formed initially, an intensive campaign was held across Lithuania, the party founders were constantly in meetings with people across Lithuania. […] The impression now is that the party is hibernating. Furthermore, the energy which earlier radiated from V. Uspaskich has greatly declined,” A. Krupavičius summarised.

To rise to the Olympus of politics, the political scientist observes, the Labour Party would need a major socioeconomic crisis. “Firstly there should be a major socioeconomic crisis, rising discontent with life in Lithuania. Then the number of protest votes in Lithuania would rise greatly and most likely the Labour Party could hope to regain some influence. If we need to qualify their success, a return to parliament would be a positive results. If they managed to repeat the results of 2015 in the municipal and mayoral elections, it could most likely be said that the party is gradually recovering,” A. Krupavičius commented.

According to political analyst V. Savukynas, the Labour Party could take 5-6% of the vote in Seimas elections. “But of course there is still much time to the Seimas elections and it is hard to say how things will develop. Did anyone predict such fortune for the “Farmers” in 2014? Yes, it was a growing power, but no-one predicted it would win such a crushing victor,” V. Savukynas explained.

Last year the Labour Party failed to exceed the 5% vote barrier in the multi-mandate district and only two of its representatives won in the single mandate districts – Valentinas Bukauskas and Petras Čimbaras.

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