You can keep on creating a welfare state for even a hundred years

Pensioners in the middle of money
Pensioners in the middle of money, Shutterstock

The sort of chaos we now see in Seimas hadn’t yet been seen in Seimas after the restoration of independence. True, prior to deciding on organising snap elections (so far the only) in 1992, there were tensions and confusion and forecasts of bad things to come (by the way, ones that came true for the Sąjūdis candidates), but nonetheless it was no match to the current political cacophony, Mečys Laurinkus wrote in

Back then, snap elections were needed due to the psychological exhaustion of members of Seimas, which after lengthy political upheaval and the tense years of Sąjūdis, the emotional restoration of independent Lithuania, economic blockade and the events of January 13, for many politicians was natural and understandable to people.

The contemporary political chaos is both hard to understand and also hard to justify via exhaustion from massive workloads. Both those with some interest in our political life and those watching it passively no longer can find suitable words to describe the situation in our political life, only shrugging.

Does this mean that it will continue to the new Seimas elections and there’s no reason for either side to mind the causes of this odd situation? What, things will be better after the elections?

It is already clear that no political entity (I no longer have any wish to call them parties) will manage a majority and the political flea market will continue with no end in sight. It is also clear that newly forming political organisations will fight for a place under the sun.

Lithuanian professional political scientists correctly observed the voters’ preference of “new faces” without considering, what these “faces” are saying and proposing. To the point of forgetting their own interests. The influence of television? People choose, who to vote for, typically based on the person seen most on TV, to whom their own show business is more important than people’s real problems.

But does the contemporary voter even know his or her interests? I believe that they comprehend increasingly little, what their real interests are. Brexit will cause tangible harm to those, who voted for it, but it is happening. In a country of old democracy. But what should help people grasp, what is what in the contemporary world that is complex in various ways? And how to choose correctly during elections?

The answer is simple: how to “act correctly” is typically specified by authoritarian and totalitarian states. In a democracy, as much as Plato may have disliked it, the citizens must decide themselves. Political scientists could grant the opportunity to choose the best-argued decisions through their discussions, but for that, you need a real culture of discussion, which unfortunately isn’t always found in countries that call themselves democratic.

Lithuania, which has for the past ten years lived in accordance to President D. Grybauskaitė‘s slogan “less talk, more work”, even when it is not always clear what works, is not a country for much discussion. Often have we heard last-minute questions before voting: whom to choose, who is better? Often the more “visible” is chosen.

This is why in Seimas we have a significant number of coincidental figures for whom politics is just a temporary adventure – from individual “solo parties” or elementary passive waiting for a future more convenient and financially more affluent job.

Meanwhile, the public watches, who its “representatives” are, what they do otherwise than what they promised during the election campaign and having calculated that a smaller number of members of Seimas can do the same “job”, agree to the reduction in the number of MPs.

Nevertheless, it is not the composition of parliaments, nor the personal traits of its members that influence the quality of the elected persons’ work, nor is it what we can currently call a looming parliamentary crisis in Lithuania. The roots go deeper.

One of them is an increasingly waning understanding of why the work is done. If a person leaves their regular work, even risks to lose their qualification and not return to it, instead of diving into the confusing, often ungrateful work of a politician, the motives of such a decision should be exceptional, idealistic. By the way, during the heat of elections, we keep hearing: “for Lithuania”, “for the better life of its citizens” and so on.

Unfortunately, with the Seimas term reaching its midpoint, instead of “for Lithuania”, we hear and see scandals, post sharing, political bickering, marches and demarches, personal clashes and settling of accounts.

Of course, there are also those seeking a political career, this is praiseworthy, but for many, entering Seimas, instead of the adventure they dreamed of becomes a boring job with domestic level rules. Or perhaps big topics that drive to clash with your opponents are no more and the core problems have already been resolved?

We are members of the EU and NATO, we have delegated a part of state sovereignty to EU structures, where we sent our headaches over the problems of grand policy. What is left is earnest, careful and orderly doing of “homework” and creating the welfare state.

Honestly, when thinking of how new generation Lithuanian politicians will name goals for the future, this is the sort of slogan I expected. It’s good to live well. What else can you say? A genius idea – you can keep on creating it for even a hundred years. But will all the unpleasant problems go away when you create a welfare state? Such as emigration.

In the United Nations, we are identified as a rapidly dispersing country. Alongside Puerto Rico. By 2050, our country should only have a million and a half left. What of it? We’ll be like the Estonians. But the Estonians do not want to vanish off the world map. Their radical right (once called nationalists) is already seeking means to limit immigration, the visa-free regime with Ukraine has been unilaterally halted. I do not agree with such considerations.

Namely, this is the big topic, problem and challenge to the Lithuanian state and its politicians. While it is not too late yet, the president should call national politicians and public figures’ consultation to begin preparing a programme to halt the dispersion of the nation. Members of Seimas, muddled by chaos, will wake up as well.
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