More than 150 Lithuanian Poles from various political options, on Sunday will take part in election to the Parliament in Lithuania, but real chance to get seats have only candidates from the list of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance (AWPL-ZChR).
In a talk with PAP Aleksander Radczenko, a Lithuanian lawyer, an owner of a blog and an observer of Lithuanian politics scene, said that Polish surnames – two or three – are practically in every list of nationwide party, but they are situated on remote places and rather without any chances to get into the parliament.
AWPL: Lithuania should fulfil its obligations
On Saturday’s elections AWPL-ZChR, for the first time, appeared under a new name. A few months ago, up to now name of the party the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania was complemented with a note Christian Families Alliance. In election the Polish group will have number 11 with a new party logo, which presents a family which consists of four members, they are holding each other hands, the family is framed by a shape of a fish- the symbol of Christianity.
In the AWPL-ZChR list, there are 141 people – the majority of them are Poles, but there are also Russians, Belarussians, Lithuanians. 28 people will apply for the seat in single-member constituency in Vilnius region which is compactly inhabited by Poles, but also in Klaipeda and Kaunas.
The basic assumptions of AWPL-ZChR election program, the group, which initially – over 20 years ago – was a party of a national minority, then was transformed into a regional party, and nowadays is getting a status of a nationwide party, are: the administrative reform and managing of a country, having in mind, strong independence, family-oriented politics, rise of retirements, changes in the form of founding education system.
In the election program of AWPL-ZChR the issue of the rights of national minorities was not emphasized in a more significant way. According to Waldemar Tomaszewski, the chairman of the party, in this field Lithuania just has to fulfil its international obligations.
The turning point in thinking
This time, the issues concerning the national minorities in Lithuania, including Poles, their rights and problems in Vilnius region, are practically risen by all other Lithuanian parties.
“This fact distinguishes current parliament election. It is a turning point in Lithuanian politicians thinking, when it comes to Polish issues, Polish demands” – thinks Andrzej Radczenko.
A former minister Andrius Kubilius, one of the leader of Lithuanian conservatives from the group called Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, has even decided, that will fight for a parliamentary seat in the single-member constituency in the Vilnius and Salcininkai region, where for years, wins a representative of AWPL. Kubilius stresses that, he is not aiming at the victory, because he knows that he will not win in a chosen constituency, but he wants to draw attention to the forgotten by other politicians region, which might boasts a huge and unexploited potential”.
“If we do not put attention to this region problems and we will not solve them on time, they might – especially if strategists from Kremlin use them – become a threat for the geopolitics security of the entire world” – stated Kubilius. The leader of the conservatives announces that his party will be an example, of a responsible, national position” towards the Vilnius region.
A completely new thing of the current parliament election is the fact that, from a list of the Lithuanian Freedom Union (ZWL) will stand for election a group of Lithuanian Poles which consists of five participants. ZWL called a Polish fraction, which nowadays has about 20 members, its chairman is an entrepreneur and a publisher of “Kurier Wileński” Zygmunt Klonowski.
Klonowski: We have to solve problems here
Klonowski indicates, that solving the problems of Poles in Lithuania, such as the way of writing surnames or the issues concerning the education system, last much too long”. He says “ we have to solve our problems here, along with Lithuanians”.
But there are little chances, that the group of Poles from ZWL will be chosen to Sejm. It is situated on a remote place in the party list: from 68 to 70. But according to Radczenko, the appearance of Polish fraction in the Lithuanian party is some kind of breakthrough in the way of thinking Poles in Lithuania., which maybe will bring some benefits in the future.
„There is some kind of disappointment among Poles in Lithuania, concerning the activity of AWPL-ZChR, because during last four years, the group – having in Sejm eight deputies and their own Sejm fraction, at the beginning being in the managing coalition – did not take advantage of the chance, practically they did not manage to solve any Polish problem” – says Radczenko, appointing, that the deputies of AWPL-ZChR have some achievements, but they are linked to nationwide issues, such as, rise in the donation for local roads or reduction of VAT for tourism services.
AWPL has exceeded the electoral threshold
According to AWPL-ZChR in this election – as the party emphasizes it – they preserve the current situation, it means that in a fraction which consists of eight members in Sejm that has 141 members, or even will increase the number of its representatives. Optimists say that maybe will be introduced even dozen or more deputies.
According to Aleksandr Radczenko assessment, AWPL-ZChR, on Saturday’s parliament election will exceed the demanded electoral threshold which constitutes 5 percent and is going to achieve a result similar to the one from four years ago – which was 6.1 percent of support.
“For the time being, Poles in Lithuania do not have any alternative from the side of nationwide groups, which would have any chance to win” – says Radczenko. He, as well appoints that also Russians vote for AWPL-ZChR, and “it will balance the slight lack of votes from Poles who are disappointed with AWPL-ZChR activity”.
A poll of a public opinion which was conducted in the end of September the institution of “Spinter tyrimai” shows, that AWPL-ZChR is supported by 4,2 percent of respondents.
The Lithuanian Agency Information BNS on Friday informed, that AWPL-ZChR, counts on 8 percent support. It assumes, that in the first tour of the election, which will be held on this Wednesday, will get 3 seats. As a result of two tours, AWPL-ZChR counts on getting, in general, about 15 seats (the second tour will be held in two weeks in single-member constituency, where at the first attempt none of the candidates will get over 50 percent of votes).
Tłumaczenie by Aneta Banacka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Aneta Banacka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.