- March 19, 2013
Landsbergis versus Kubilius– will the proverbial third one win?
Lithuanian Conservatists, Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, are facing the dilemma of choosing the new chairman of the party. Three out of eighteen candidates that were proposed will compete for the post of the chairman of the biggest oppositional party, which at the same time is the biggest right-wing political group.
The biggest intrigue is caused by the fact that the honorary chairman, the EMP Vytautas Landsbergis, who probably as the only one is able to threaten the position of the current leader, Andrius Kubilius, is also taking part in the election. Will he win? He rather won’t – political analysts agree on that matter. The majority of people who observe the political stage emphasize that by taking part in the election for the post of the leader of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats party, Landsbergis wants to strengthen his position in the group, since currently the leadership does not take him too seriously, even though the legend of “Sąjūdis” and the leader of the Regenerative Seym still belongs to the narrow group of leaders of the party and he still leads the influential Political Committee that models the way, which the policy of the conservative group follows. In the opinion of the political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas, Landsbergis does not really want to return to the leading position in the party but he wants to prove that his lecturing in the party has great sense.
It still remains a mystery, then, whether the two remaining candidates for the post of the chairman of the party – MP Valentinas Stundys and EMP Laima Andrikienė – are able to get something for themselves in this whole competition. Both were leaders of parties that were earlier joined with the Homeland Union. Stundys was the chairman of the Lithuanian Christian Democrats until 2008, when it merged with the Homeland Union. Andrikienė, after leaving the conservative party in 1999, was the leader of the then created Homeland People’s Party, which merged with three other groups in 2001 into the Lithuanian Right-Wing Association and in 2003 it joined the Homeland Union.
Both Landsbergis and Stundys, and also Andrikienė, to a smaller degree, represent the right-wing part of the Lithuanian conservatists. In the meantime, Kubilius is the unquestionable leader of the liberal wing of the party. From the calculations made by conservatists themselves it seems that the liberal fraction can expect greater support from party members. The calculations are the reason why (at least officially) the MP Irena Degutienė, who is undoubtedly considered the leader of the Christian-democratic wing of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats party, has resigned from participating in the election. According to specialists it is Degutienė who could seriously threaten Kubilius. Nevertheless, although her candidacy for the post of the chairman of the party was suggested by various district departments, Degutienė has decided to back out from the electoral campaign. Unofficially it is said that the real reason why she has given up the election is that she has plans related to the presidential campaign.
After Degutienė’s resignation, the final fight will probably take place between Landsbergis and Kubilius, unless the proverbial third candidate – most importantly, Stundys – wins.
Landsbergis’ victory or the possible victory of another candidate of the Christian-democratic fraction will probably make the conservatists go further to the right. It will make the distance between them and traditional liberal coalitional partners of the party greater.
But, in spite of appearances, it is the Polish minority in Lithuania who will feel the consequences of possible changes the most intensively. In the times when Conservatists were the ruling group the Polish community was never treated kindly, to put it mildly.
It is Landsbergis who, some time ago, called to conservatists to declare their place of living in the Vilnius Region in large numbers, in order to “gain historical victory over Poles in the next election.” Then, in the book Let’s reach an agreement with our Poles, which was published at the end of the previous year, Landsbergis sees the Vilnius Region, inhabited in most part by Poles, as a post-Soviet enclave in Lithuania. Meanwhile, Stundys, as the leader of the Education and Schooling Commission in the Parliament of the previous term of office, is responsible for forcing through the scandalous educational act, which, in the opinion of representatives of the Polish minority, discriminates the Polish schooling system in Lithuania. Stundys’ or Landsbergis’ victory can lead to further limits imposed on the rights of the Polish minority, which were initiated by the former administration of the PM Andrius Kubilius. We will know who is the new leader of Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats in less than a month.
Tłumaczenie Emilia Zawieracz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emilia Zawieracz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.