- October 17, 2012
The Charm of the Election Reminiscences
Long waiting, doubts, and the feel of relief and happiness, that it worked. That we have exceeded the 5% of the electoral threshold, and that after years of effort and attempts of establishment on the Lithuanian political scene there will be more members of parliament from the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania in the Lithuanian Seimas – such were the feelings during the night after the elections in the Polish Culture House in Vilnius, where the campain team was working. Good work – cheered the people present. And it is a justified view, more or less supported by the observers of the Lithuanian political observers. The change in the image of the Electoral Action of Poles inLithuaniahas worked well for the party, at least for now.
Paradoxically, the success was supported by the ruling conservatives and liberals, who, by means of their decisions, lack of understanding, imposing their will and lack of respect towards the citizens of non-Lithuanian nationality, have mobilized the electorate and forced the people to leave home and go to cast their vote.
The essence should be the result in one of the first-past-the-post constituencies, where Zbigniew Maciejewski, the headmaster of the St R. Kalinowski school in Nemėžis, who won in the first round to compete with Audronis Ažubalis, the Lithuanian foreign minister, known for his not much diplomatic approach to the Lithuanian Poles and Poland itself.
It never happened before that the Polish candidates got so much support in the first-past-the-post constituencies, another example can be Zofia Matarewicz, the headmistress of the “Wilia” preschool and school, who outran 13 other candidates and in the second round will compete with conservative Paulis Saudargas, the son of a well-known Lithuanian diplomat, former minister of foreign affairs. Winning may be difficult, but even overrunning 13 other candidates is a reason for satisfaction of the Polish candidates and their supporters.
These examples are the best evidence that the Lithuanian Poles treat issues related to the Polish schooling seriously. Both candidates that won the first round are school headmasters. The second piece of evidence is a change in the all-country electoral register, where candidate Józef Kwiatkowski moved from the 7th to the 3rd place, which guaranteees a position in the Lithuanian parliament. Kwiatkowski even overran Michał Mackiewicz, the president of the Union of Poles inLithuania, who moved to the 4th place, but still retaining a position in the parliament.
Some unpleasant thoughts about the election – the situation was adequatly summarized by Maria Rekść, the mayor of theVilniusregion. She said thatLithuaniamay experience problems in the future, because the people are used to being paid for voting and it seems normal and obvious and that never before we experienced such lawlessness and impunity in literally buying out votes. All people inLithuaniaknow that one particular rich party enjoys the method and that such practices become something normal. In the countryside they openly look around and ask where and for how much they can sell a vote. Nobody asks if or why, but for how much. All people know that nobody deals with it. As it was enough to shrug their shoulders.
Similar was the situation with counting the votes. Everybody knows it takes place during the post-electoral night, that the votes are usually counted until the morning and the results are posted on the Central Electoral Commission, and are filled in in total on Monday noon.
This time a half of the polling stations did not send in the data, the votes were allegedly being counted until Monday evening. The explanation of the chief of the commission, that the members wanted to rest, and then count the votes, came as a shock. These people are chosen by the political parties, they are employed and their commission membership does not allow them to not to go to work. It is not known who counted the votes – the few people that remained or some unknown people. When I asked one of the members how did the counting go, she said that she did not know because she had to go to work. In one of the districts of the Vilnius-Trakai region the votes were still not counted on Tuesday evening, there was a blank space in their section of the websites of the Electoral Commission, which is said to update itself automatically as the votes are counted.
There were problems in two polling stations the presidents put the seals on the bags filled with the voting papers at the moment of sending them to the Central Electoral Commission. The unsealed bags were said to be located in one of the classrooms.
We cannot, of course, assume that the members of the electoral commissions were malicious, but to avoid suspicions of electoral irregularities. The Commission should be held responsible for this mess and huge negligence, but they do not even bother to explain anything.
Yra kaip yra – say the Lithuanians in extraordinary and dead-end situations. And they can say that again. But let us not make fun ofBelarusthen.
These observations do not fit the satisfaction felt by most Lithuanian Poles because of the result of the Electoral Action. The party is going to run for election in the next election, but, above all, in the 2nd which is to take place in two weeks time. Then the fight will be tough and every single vote would count and determine the winner.
Tłumaczenie Sławek Stępski w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Sławek Stępski the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.