- October 15, 2012
Poles grow in strength in the Lithuanian Seimas
Twenty-two hours of the counting of votes by the Central Electoral Commission of Lithuania is not enough to collect and report the data from all the constituencies, but we can talk about the first new Polish MEPs in the Lithuanian parliament. There will probably be from 6 to 10 of them. The final number will be known in two weeks after the second round of elections in single-seat constituencies. In the first round some nice surprises took place, so perhaps maybe in the next term of parliament the Poles from other political parties will win their seats again. One thing is certain: after twenty years, the Poles will again be quite a large group in the parliament of Lithuania; maybe they will even create their own members’ club (political fraction).
The first deputy of the EAPL in the new parliament of Lithuania is Leonard Talmont, chosen in accordance with the tradition in the first round in the Vilnius-Salcininkai constituency. The former mayor of the Salcininkai region was basically the only member of the Polish party doomed to spend another four years in the parliament, right in the moment when the electoral list was approved. So far, however, only the leaders of the EAPL run in elections in the Vilnius-Salcininkai district. This time, it was Waldemar Tomaszewski who was at the top of the list, but he resigned from the candidature in the single-seat constituency. He decided to go all or nothing to overcome the electoral threshold and win the seat from the list, just like Michał Mackiewicz (another former MP) did. In case of failure, Tomaszewski will stay in the European Parliament for two years and Mackiewicz will be forced to leave the parliament after the first term of office and return to the presidency of the Union of Poles in Lithuania.
Other MEPs of the EAPL will be known this afternoon, when the information whether the EAPL has managed to exceed the electoral threshold will be released. Depending on the fact how many parties overcome the threshold, the minimum number of seats usually varies from 4 to 6. They are distributed to the candidates but not in accordance with their position on the list but on the so-called “rankings” – the number of the votes received. The current result gives five seats to the Poles, and the top five is already known: Waldemar Tomaszewski, Wanda Krawczonok and Józef Kwiatkowski can already start looking for the champagne to celebrate; Michał Mackiewicz and Zdzisław Palewicz have fairly strong positions as well, although Zbigniew Jedziński treads upon the heels of the latter one.
The fate of the winner of the sixth place depends on the final result of the voting and on what will happen next to the EAPL. The leader of the party announced that in case of the co-creation of the ruling coalition, if the EAPL wins high position (e.g. a ministry), he will give up his MEP mandate and return to the government. If not, he will stay in Brussels and Strasbourg, and the fifth seat will be given to the deputy from Swieciany. Some other solutions are also possible, e.g. if one of the other four MPs resigns from the work in the parliament, or if Zdzisław Palewicz wins a seat in the Orany-Eišiškės constituency, which will be a victory of real historical significance – in such cases, Zdzisław Jedziński will go to the Seimas too.
The third group of future MPs of the EAPL will be known in two weeks, after the second round of elections. Then the Poles will fight decisive battles in six single-seat constituencies. They came off well in four of them in the first round, so there is hope that the success can be repeated; however, in the second round the opponents often consolidate against the Polish candidate. Jarosław Narkiewicz is the most likely to stay in the parliament – he won almost 40% of votes in the Vilnius-Trakai constituency. The rivalry will be the strongest in the Naujoji Vilnia and Vilnius-Širvintos constituencies, as it was four years ago. Last election in these districts was won by Michał Mackiewicz, and in previous years – Leokadia Poczykowska, but recent changes in the boundaries of constituencies are unfavorable to the Poles. The Deputy Director of the administration of the Vilnius district, Rita Tamašunienė, got almost 30% of votes in the first round – but she will have to deal with quite a strong opponent of the winning Labor Party.
Tadeusz Andrzejewski, the former adviser of the Lithuanian Prime Minister, will run for the parliament in the Naujoji Vilnia constituency; he won 21% of votes in the first round, but three of his competitors fought for the right to take part in the second round until the last minute, so that the situation remains uncertain. In the Orany-Eišiškės district, the “full-time” MP is Algis Kašėta, who regularly defeats the EAPL representative in the second round. This time he defeated Zdzisław Palewicz – both of them got 22% of votes, closely followed by Gediminas Jakavonis (with nearly 20% of votes) – maybe it’s his electorate which will decide on the results of the election in two weeks.
The most gratifying is the fact that the Poles came off surprisingly well when compared to the relatively high turnout in Vilnius, where the Polish community is dispersed and constitutes no dense clusters outside Naujoji Vilnia. For the first time, the candidates of the EAPL won second places in two new districts of the capital and were qualified for the second round. The Vilnius MP, Zbigniew Maciejewski, came off well in Šeškinė defeating a strong candidate of the Social Democrats (Algirdas Sysas); he los, however, with the current head of the Lithuanian diplomacy, Audronis Ażubalis. What’s surprising, the headmaster of local school and kindergarten “Wilia” (“Neris”) in Justiniškės, Zofia Matarewicz, beat the former Prime Minister of Lithuania, the Gediminas Kirkilas, a Social Democrat as well. The winner received only 4% of votes more. If the Poles manage to get at least one seat in the second round of the elections, it would be undoubtedly the biggest sensation.
In general, almost in all districts of Vilnius the EAPL candidates received at least 8-10% of votes, winning the third or the fourth place and minimally losing their chance to fight in the second round; e.g. Wanda Krawczonok in Karoliniškės or Romualda Poševeckaja in Lazdynai, who lost only 3 percentage points to the Minister of Education, Steponavičiusem. The Poles strengthened their positions outside Vilnius as well, e.g. in Trakai-Elektrėnai constituency, where the deputy prime minister of Vilnius, Jarosław Kamiński, lacked only 1 percentage point to run in the second round…
A Pole from the Social Democrats, Krystyna Miškinienė from the Salcininkai district, has a good chance to win a seat in the second round. Several other Poles, running for parliament in the colors of nationwide parties, were not qualified to continue their competition.
Tłumaczenie Ewelina Zarembska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Ewelina Zarembska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.