If two years ago someone had said that the Polish Electoral Action in Lithuania – Christian Families Union (LLRA-KŠS) would be lured to participate in forming majorities in both Seimas and the Vilnius municipal council, that person would have been told to either check their mental health or at least take care of it. Ramūnas Karbauskis and Waldemar Tomaszewski‘s increasing cooperation could perhaps have been predicted by someone, but Remigijus Šimašius extending his hand to the Polish party became a massive surprise.
The LLRA was never a primary or even secondary actor of our country’s political life. Representatives of the national broadcaster, not even to speak of the commercial broadcasters, rarely invite LLRA parliamentarians or municipal figures to their broadcasts. Deliberations of the questions of South-eastern Lithuania typically proceed without participation from the Polish political organisation.
The LLRA’s image greatly fell when it departed the coalition with the Social Democrats and Labour Party. The political elite then agreed upon this being an untrustworthy and unpredictable partner. V. Tomaszewski appearance with a ribbon of St. George at the Antakalnis cemetery during the May 9th celebrations erased any serious consideration of the political power as a significant political actor in Lithuania.
It is hard to discern what harmed Lithuanian security more – the leader and personae of other traditional parties who neglected national and energy security and yielded to Gazprom for years or local Polish politicians who openly support Russian aggression in Ukraine and open the way into Lithuanian government for pro-Putin local representatives of the Russian Alliance. If Lithuanian business magnates can take care of their business interests in Crimea, you won’t stop the representatives of a parliamentary party or their coalition partners from the Russian ethnic minority to praise Vladimir Putin’s policy after all. Nevertheless the readings of the political barometer will not favour the LLRA until pro-Putin flirting is clearly severed.
Many thoughts arise in the area of Polish-Lithuanian bilateral relations as well. The Polish Electoral Action grew and thrived during the tenure of Donald Tusk as prime minister in Warsaw, when Radoslaw Sikorski was the Polish foreign minister. Precisely when the freezing of bilateral relations was announced, V. Tomashevski and his party members were the only bridge between Vilnius and Warsaw. Polish policy regarding Lithuania was then formed based on information provided by the LLRA and its satellite – the Lithuanian Poles Union.
The fiercest liberals Warsaw liberals claimed they are fighting for the rights of the Polish minority in Lithuania and that the guarantee of these rights is the Polish Electoral Action in Lithuania. And there’s nothing to be done about participating in elections with Kremlin supporters because based on Lithuanian electoral law this was the only way for the Poles to enter parliament, Warsaw claimed. At the same time there was no mention made that only every second member of the Lithuanian Polish minority votes for the LLRA, them being able to gather 3 to 3.5% of the vote in Lithuania this way.
One cannot fail to observe that the interior of the Polish party is little different to the “kitchens” of other political organisations. Do patriotic slogans match actions in all parties? Certainly not. Chairman’s authoritarianism, the party running rampant in controlled rural municipalities, veteran dominance and side-lining the youth – are these not the problems of most parties? At the same time the Polish party actually looks better than some larger political powers in Lithuania in terms of combating corruption.
If there was no such party, the main Lithuanian political leaders would create it. Unwillingness to accept other nationalities or foreign language speakers, disregarding the social problems of East Lithuania, ignoring schools in Vilnius city where the taught language is Russian or Polish, fighting the letter w, unsuccessful and corrupt land returns – all of this has an influence on the growth of V. Tomashevski’s electorate. Finally the Lithuanian municipal model, the reform of which is not even being discussed, ensures that the Polish Electoral Action in Lithuania easily continues to dominate in several municipalities near Vilnius.
The opponents of the Lithuanian Liberal Movement and the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, without stopping to reflect, often celebrate the trap the two parties have entered in seeking cooperation with V. Tomashevski. At the same time he is in no rush to form any formal coalition and even if things came to it, this cooperation would not be long lived.
The Polish party benefits more from being the victim of the Lithuanian political system, an oppressed political actor which can call upon Warsaw patriots at any time. Furthermore the municipal and European Parliament elections are not far off. Who said that being an opposition party is bad or unprofitable? What matters most is to remain in the political arena.