The Baltic Times
Jul 19, 2006
Staff and wire reports
VILNIUS – Parliament approved the program of Lithuania’s new center-left minority coalition on July 18, after which the 14th government was sworn in, giving the scandal-plagued country a new political start. The center-left bloc that has formed the new minority government – the Social Democrats, the National Farmers’ Union, the Civil Democracy party and the Liberal Centrists – will have 53 members in the 141-seat legislature.
Social Democrat Gemdiminas Kirkilas will lead the government, in which his fellow party members will have six ministerial posts, the National Farmers’ Union three, and the Liberal Centrists and the Civil Democracy party two each.
Fifty-nine MPs approved the government’s program, while 49 voted against and two abstained.
The program was not only supported by ruling parties, but by representatives of several parliamentary groups that had earlier spoken against it.
The opposition Homeland Union (Conservatives) is one such example. Seeking to resolve a political crisis in the country, the party pledged “silent” support for the government – i.e., abstention from voting. However, some Conservatives – Vida Marija Cigriejiene, Ramunas Garbaravicius and Arimantas Dumcius – voted in favor of the government’s program.
Parliamentary approval comes after a previous prime minister candidate was rejected.
Commenting on the new coalition, President Valdas Adamkus, who attended the swearing-in ceremony, said the alliance would have to “prove through its work” that it is indeed “the government of confidence.”
“First of all, I think that it is a welcome move, as the period of transience, which would do no good for the country if protracted, is over. I heard a statement that this government is ‘a government of confidence,’ but the coalition will still have to prove this,” Adamkus said.
“It is in the state’s interest that Lithuania has a stable government from the international point of view, which is vital for the good of the Lithuanian people,” he continued. “Either we serve the people of Lithuania or play political games.”
The Conservatives, who had been hoping to form the next government, expressed their disapproval of the program prior to the vote.
Faction leader Irena Degutiene stressed that the new center-left government “lacks value-based foundations” and therefore required “a principled opposition’s supervision.”
“Seeking transparent, fair politics based on values, the Homeland Union will set the highest ethical requirements for the ministers and will watch carefully whether official powers are not abused,” Degutiene said.
Homeland Union leader Andrius Kubilius was glad that the Labor Party, whose leader is still in Russia (see story on this page) is not part of the coalition.
“The Labor Party’s absence from the formation of the government is an essential condition for Lithuania to return to the standards of moral politics,” Kubilius said.
However, he added that although the decision to form the government without the Labor Party is a welcome move of the Social Democrats, “it is not enough to return to moral politics.”
“The Social Democrats have chosen to align with parties that raise many doubts, but this is a lesser evil than a coalition with the Labor Party,” Kubilius said.