Confessions of a Political Animal

October 27, 2008

European Left Watch: Out of office in Lithuania

Seimas (Parliament) Building, Vilnius

Seimas (Parliament) Building, Vilnius

We reported two weeks ago on the first round of Lithuania’s parliamentary elections. From the first set of results it was clear that the Social Democrat-led coalition was headed for a particularly nasty defeat, with the lead party itself set to arrive in fourth place overall. Well, two weeks on the news isn’t any better, with the constituency seats now declaring.

The Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija (Lithuanian Social Democratic Party) do appear to have done a little better in the constituency run-offs that took place yesterday than they did in the proportional list based seats decided last week – presumably because the power of incumbency for established party representatives allowed some in-roads to be made against the newly-established populist parties who did remarkably well in the list votes. This means that the Social Democrats are likely to be able to claw themselves into second place in terms of Seimas seats, but well short of the resurgent Tėvynės sąjunga – Lietuvos krikscionys demokratai (Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats).

The two new ‘populist’ parties, the National Resurrection Party founded just last year by Lithuanian TV personality Arünas Valinskas who hosts the country’s version of Pop Idol (Politicalbetting considers if something similar could happen in the UK) and the Order & Justice Party of impeached former president Rolandas Paksas secured few seats in the constituency run-offs but had already established themselves as major players in the new parliament due to major gains in the list section.

The provisional results suggest that a three-party coalition is likely to be the minimum required for a majority government, this will certainly be lead by the Christian Democrats, putting an end to the Social Democrat-led government of Gediminas Kirkilas against the backdrop of the end of the Baltic boom that Lithuania and its neighbours has enjoyed over the past decade. With the results not yet confirmed, the Christian Democrats seem to be heading for 44 seats, with a coalition likely to be formed with the National Resurrection Party and at least one of the smaller Liberal Movement or the Liberal and Centre Union. The Social Democrats seem likely to end up with fewer than 30 seats. The leftist Labour party also looks set to be a big loser, having been the largest party in the previous parliament, it appears to be struggling to achieve much of a standing at all this time round. The Lithuanian Central Electoral Commission has now published preliminary results, outlined in the table below. 

Party Politics First round vote share Change from 2004 First round seats Second round seats Total Change from 2004
Tėvynės sąjunga – Lietuvos krikscionys demokratai Christian democrat 19.7% +5.1% 18 26 44 +19
Tautos prisikėlimo partija Centrist ‘populist’ 15.1% +15.1% 13 3 16 +16 
Tvarka ir teisingumas Centrist ‘populist’ 12.7% +1.3% * 11 4 15 +4*
Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija Social democratic 11.7% -9% § 10  16 26 +6
Koalicija Darbo partija [Labour Party] + jaunimas [Youth Party] Leftist ‘populist’ 9% -19.4% 8 2 10 -29
Lietuvos Respublikos liberalų sąjūdis Centre-right liberal 5.7% +5.7% 5 6 11  +11
Liberalų ir centro sąjunga Centre-right liberal 5.3% -3.8% 3 8 -10
Lietuvos valstiečių liaudininkų sąjunga Agrarian centre-right 3.7% -2.9%  3 -7
Lietuvos lenkų rinkimų akcija Polish minority centre-right 4.8% +1% 0 3 3
Naujoji sąjunga (socialliberalai) Centre-left liberal 3.64% § 0 1 1 -10 
Non-partisan   n/a n/a 0 4 4 -1

*: compared to 2004 coalition of parties headed by Rolandas Paksas of same name.

§: in 2004 polls Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija and Naujoji sąjunga (socialliberalai) ran as a single list. Disaggregated vote shares are not available.

Whilst the Social Democrats appear to have done pretty well in terms of net seat gain, they have been rendered effectively powerless by the decimation of their former coalition partners in the Labour and New Union (Social Liberal) parties. No two parties can achieve the 71 seats required for a majority – a grand coalition of the main centre-left and centre-right parties would provide 70 seats but is highly unlikely given the other ways that the Christian Democrats can jump. The most likely minimum coalition would be the Christian Democrats+National Resurrection Party+Liberal Movement, which would give precisely 71 seats. Bringing in the other liberal party would make this a safer 79 seats. It is also possible that the Christian Democrats could enter coalition with the other ‘populist’ party, Order & Justice, but given the questionable nature of its leader that would be something of a risk, although a Christian Democrat+National Resurrection+Order & Justice coalition would give 75 seats, and the centre-right, broadly pro-Russian and EU-sceptic direction of the three parties would appear compatible. Whatever happens, it seems certain that former Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius will be returning to power at the head of the Christian Democrats.

Time for an update of the European left map below (see the original Leftwatch post for explanation). We are still awaiting a final outcome of the government formations in both Slovenia and Austria – in both cases the centre-left party leader has been commissioned to form a government, but neither sets of negotiations is yet finalised. In the later, of course, political events have taken a rather unexpected turn over the past week. Updates on these when they happen.

2 Comments »

  1. […] 12 October: Lithuania (Seimas/parliament) Social Democrat-led government defeated, with likely coalition of centre right parties – post here. […]

    Pingback by Left behind in Europe « Confessions of a Political Animal — October 28, 2008 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  2. That what you are calling Lithuanian Socialdemocratic Party have nothing common with left. Just one name. They are the same conservatives, just under different name.

    Comment by Andrius — October 28, 2008 @ 9:40 pm | Reply


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