- October 23, 2012
Jurkynas: five pros of the election
The act of observing, systematizing, explaining, understanding and…making comments concerning political life- these are the activities that are on a daily basis of political followers. There have been many speeches made by political scientists, as for the recent election, which itself has been a significant turning point in the country.
The publicity, which is an integral part of any kind of election, gives a better perspective ofLithuania’s society and policy. Politics, as a whole, in our country is often judged very ironically, even with a bit of pessimism in it, nevertheless, we do have some aspects of it that should make us happy, the problem if that you have to want to see it. At the beginning, I will briefly comment on the results of the election, then I will summarize it and comment on the way, I think, things will turn out after the second round of the election.
Lithuanian version of democracy
First of all, democracy inLithuaniaexists but only on terms of being ‘the only one available’. People tend to get used to things that are good and beneficial. Democracy, as being a good one (or describing it as British PM Winston Churchill would as “the lesser evil”) as such is not perceived. The fact is, that since 1990, there have already been seven election inLithuania, proves that democracy there is rather consolidated and organized. Democracy is being criticized for its ‘Lithuanian modification’ (I have in mind cases of corrupting voters to get their support) even more. Nevertheless, we cannot diminish the way in which voters, in a peaceful and national way, test those in government. I have a history of explaining to my Belarusian students of the European Humanistic University (Europos humanitarinis universitetas) a simplistic advantage of democracy, which is, that in a democratic country, with the already ‘used’ people in government, there is a chance of replacing them: “We, if we want to do so, we do it, you, on the other hand, haven’t done it yet.”
Secondly, there is a great increase in the number of people who are politically-aware. Participation in the election, during the last four years, has risen by 4 percent: from the point of 48,6 to 52,9 percent. It is worth mentioning, that this index has risen for the third time. Considering the fact, that emigration and death rate have reduced the number of people eligible for voting, it is nice to see that the attendance has risen to about 60 000- this is the number that the party which wanted to exceed the 5 percent electoral minimum, was most desiring to get. Obviously, in order to be accurate and positive about these estimations , one would have to check the data concerning membership in the party as well as its being socially active. Nevertheless, a rising number of people who participate in the election is a proves the fact that people are not indifferent to the results.
Thirdly, the significance of the minor parties is decreasing. People sometimes complain, that during the election campaign inLithuania, some political messiahs often pop out. Fortunately, it is different. Since the year 2000, there has been a significant decrease in the number of political parties. In the year 2004, almost half of the seats in parliaments were occupied by debutants. In 2008, the National Revival Party (Tautos prisikėlimo partija – TPP) where Arūnasa Valinskasa got 15 percent (187 000) of votes. This year, the political party “A Courageous Road” („Drąsos kelias“) got only 8 percent (109 000) votes and nothing signifies that it will get more support in the second round of the election, in the areas of one-parliament seat.
Fourthly, a party system is a bit broken up. Let’s forget about the fact, that there are dozens of parties inLithuania. Indeed, on paper, there are many of them, but the real ones- influential and decision-making political organizations can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The potential of the coalition
When it comes to the previous election, the 5-percent demand has been exceeded by 7 parties, but only 5-6 of them have a real coalition potential, and what is more- in that way, they have an influence over the politics. The political influence of anti-Semitic Socialistic People’s Democracy (Socialistinis liaudies frontas), who says to be against the political ‘rules of the game’, showed a significant decrease in their political influence. The “Courageous Road’s has received a prophecy from them, that they may be doomed to serve as political parasite. My hypothesis is that because the “Courageous Road” has voiced their protests as well as “The Law and Order” party, and Valinskasa’s showmen did, I can easily assume that the range of protests has slowly began to decrease.
Fifthly, the index of electorate political stability is strengthening- people are faithful to the parties they have previously chosen which consolidate into their political plans. Some people may criticize that, as a way of making a cartel out of a party system. Figures show, that fluctuation (variability) inLithuaniais changing for the third time in a row. If in the year of 2000 and2004 inthe election for the lower house of the parliament, every second person has voted for some different party than in the year 1996 or2000, inthe year 2008 the index would have been 29 percent, and in the year 2012, according to the other study, it would have been 25 percent.
Is Wiktor Uspaskich a political swinger?
The significance of the party In the New government will be revealed in the second round of the election, even so, we can still predict that it is be the social democratic party that has the greatest chance of becoming the biggest political fraction. After the election of 2011, the biggest number of Meyers and councilors were that of the social democratic party. Being aware of the characteristic features of the local politics, as well as the press which tends to be pro-local, one can assume that many positions will be taken by the people from the social democratic party.
On the other hand, if in the second round there will be an increase in the number of people from Conservative and Labor parties , those from the social democratic one, will not feel comfortable in that situation. Furthermore, if there will be an agreement between Labor, Social Democratic and “Justice and Order” Parties as to the mutual support in the second round, then there may be a change in power as a result of the next election.
In theory, including the promises made before the election, political plan should contain the convergent points of every party as well as each party’s contract. That is why we may expect a coalition of social democrats with the Labor Party and with…. one of the smallest parties that have exceeded the 5 percent demand (with an exception of “Courageous Road” party), if only there is a sufficient number of votes. It can even be Polish Election Movement in Lithuania (AWPL), because the smallest party gets the least seats, has the least influence, etc.
If the governing coalition demands more solid majority, then social democrats and Labor Party will be joined by the supporters of Rolandas Paksas. It is said, that Wiktor Uspaskich can become a so-called political ‘swinger’, who supports both the left and right wing of the government; what is more, in the Conservative Party, there may be a tendency of keeping the power, and that would prevent them from losing the influence in business and administration.
The demand to be in power may mean trouble for the conservatives, as taking the risk of establishing close relations with somebody who used to be “The enemy no.1”, may mean that they will be forced to leave the political arena, with no support an power. But finishing the Labor Party’s proceedings may be a key in the coalition-t-be. Ms President herself is not a passive observer of the political arena, either. It makes it all even more interesting. To be continued.
Mindaugas Jurkynas- He is a lecturer in the faculty of Political Science and International Relations in the University of Vilnius.
Tłumaczenie Emilia Borkowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emilia Borkowska the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.