Despite dark clouds on the horizon, Zenonas Vaigauskas, a chairman of the Central Electoral Commission [Polish: Główna Komisja Wyborcza, GKW], seems to be in a good humour. The day before the parliamentary voting concerning the vote of no confidence in GKW and its chairman (the motion has been eventually accepted) Vaigauskas claimed that he did not plan to resign form his position because “he assessed his work to be more positive than negative”.
Well, we can only congratulate the experienced chairman of GKW for his good humour. However, I think that his cheerful attitude could curdle after a careful analysis of his long-term work. Then, it would become clear that during his term of office the problem of political corruption in Lithuania has increased significantly. After each elections this outrageous operation have been becoming worse and worse. If I remember correctly, it began almost like in a film. Several years ago a certain lady with a wig was caught by the police while she was trying to buy herself a seat in the local government. The cheat was not well prepared and the woman in the poor disguise became an easy target for the law enforcement agents. Someone claimed it was funny, someone was outraged but no one drew any conclusions form the incident, especially GKW that is statutorily responsible for ensuring honest elections.
The neglected problem has been festering and finally become a sociological phenomenon in our country. In the recent elections votes were purchased in a well-organized, planned, almost professional manner. The votes of prisoners were bought as well as votes of faithful customers of off-licences and members of specific social groups. Despite the discreet and professional organization, in several cases the truth came to light. One of the most funny episodes of this series occurred in an electoral district of Vilnius where gypsies live.
Until now Gypsies have not participated in the elections. We can only imagine the astonishment of the local electoral commission members when they saw a large group of Gypsies in their polling station. They formed a raw and voted (a few of them in one polling booth at the same time because not all of them knew how to vote properly) and as a result, a certain party that is infamous for their bribery practices won outright the first ballot in that district. The second ballot was even more amusing because not even one Gypsy appeared in the polling station. Certainly, no one delivered “arguments” to them because the issue became too well-known.
The GKW chairman admits that the vote purchasing has become a plague of Lithuanian electoral reality. However, he washes his hands of the whole situation and claims that his institution is not able to fight against the phenomenon that erodes the pillars of democracy. It is true that Vaigauskas himself is not able to catch all corrupted politicians and demoralised voters. Nevertheless, it does not mean Vaigauskas as the GKW chairman should not led the fight against the shameful practice that degrades Lithuania to the level of the countries of the Third World. Personally, I have not heard that the GKW chairman has begun the cooperation with the law enforcement agencies and undertaken any actions against the political corruption in our country. The chairman’s attitude has caused that for the first time since Lithuania regained its independence the legality of the elections has been questioned. Moreover, a lot of political scientist have started to ask open questions whether we have any moral right to teach democracy to our neighbours from Russia or Belarus when in our country democracy is treated as a product for sale.
We wish that Vaigauskas would notice that the elections in Lithuania had become the source of embarrassment and international disgrace to our country.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Rolka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Rolka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.