For the first time since regaining independence in 1991, Lithuanians have the opportunity to re-elect the same government formed at elections four years earlier. Yet they are almost certain to reject this chance of political continuity. Frustrated with dismal living standards and a poignant sense of dysfunctional social justice, voters in the Baltic nation are poised to send packing the conservative-led coalition and return opposition centre-leftists and populists to the helm. Such a scenario could, in turn, postpone tentative plans to introduce the euro and affect preparations for Lithuania’s presidency of the European Union’s Council of Ministers in the second half of 2013. Polls indicate that either the Social Democrats, who reigned over Lithuanian politics for more than six years before getting the boot in 2008.
elections, or the Labour Party, a Russia-friendly group of populists known for extravagant promises and endless scandals, will finish first in the 14 October ballot. Each party could garner anywhere from 15% to 20% of the vote, but as each is suspicious of the other, it is uncertain whether they would opt to co-operate and, if not, what kind of mixedbag coalition might emerge in the next Seimas, Lithuania’s parliament.
Andrius Kubilius is the first Lithuanian prime minister to serve a full four-year term. But his party, the Conservatives-Christian Democrats, is on course to finish fourth or fifth and be left out of the next government. It is not too surprising. Having taken the reins in December 2008, the Conservatives were handed a rotten deal: Lithuania was nose-diving into recession, and Kubilius had to force austerity onto the country of 3 million in order to avoid Latvia’s predicament of asking international lenders for a multi-billion euro bail-out.