- February 12, 2019
Tamošiūnaitė not invited to pre-electoral programme at LRT
Public television LRT held pre-electoral programme “LRT Forumas” on Monday this week. There were invited six candidates to Vilnius mayor position, however, the EAPL–CF’s candidate, Edita Tamošiūnaitė was not invited to attend the discussion. The party found it revolting, as not inviting a candidate from the second largest faction of the Vilnius City Council was an infringement of the principle of equality. As stated by LRT, due to lack of time and space, the television only invited the most popular candidates.
The programme was attended by Remigijus Šimašius, Artūras Zuokas, Dainius Kreivys, Gintautas Paluckas, Viktor Uspaskich and Naglis Puteikis. The candidate of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union could not attend the programme. Also, the commentators were invited – political scientist Rima Urbonaitė and the director of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, Žilvinas Šilėnas.
AWPL: The principle of equal opportunities was not respected.
On Monday at Seimas there was held a press conference for Wanda Krawczonok, the Member of Parliament, and Edita Tamošiūnaitė, the Vilnius Wicker and candidate in Mayor elections.
“After the parliamentary elections in 2016, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania stated that the actions of the Central Electoral Commission were unlawful. As a result of those actions the candidates in single-member districts were not provided with equal opportunities to speak in the mass media and announce their electoral programme, as well as the right to use the public broadcaster – Lithuanian National Radio and Television. The Court ruled that the rules of pre-election agitation are adopted by the Central Electoral Commission after consultation with the Lithuanian National Radio and Television. Programmes shall be distributed in such a way that the principle of equality between the lists of candidates and the candidates in the districts is not infringed” – recalled Wanda Krawczonok.
As informed by Krawczonok, in January 2019 LRT addressed the Central Electoral Commission with information that at its own expense it will prepare three pre-electoral programmes “LRT Forumas”, dedicated Mayor elections in Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda. As informed by LRT due to the duration of the programme and studio design it is not possible to invite all candidates.
LRT: We invited the most popular candidates
In the comment sent to editorial office of zw.lt LRT stated that the qualitative debate would not be possible if 17 candidates were invited.
“LRT had two options: not to hold a debate at all, or to conduct a sociological study and, on the basis of this study, to invite the candidates with the greatest society support. After consultation with the Central Electoral Commission, the LRT decided to organize a debate. Before the three pre-election programs dedicated to candidates for the mayors of Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda, a sociological survey was organized, which was conducted by UAB NORSTAT LT after winning a public tender. Survey method – Internet survey, target group – residents of the three largest cities aged 18-74 with voting rights. A total of 700 respondents took part in the survey” – informed the spokeswoman of the public broadcaster Virginija Bunevičiūtė.
“The survey was conducted to receive objective data of candidates with the greatest support, therefore in the tender conditions it was pointed out, that data will not be publicly announced – only the candidates for Mayor are allowed to familiarize themselves with the survey results” – as added in LRT’s comment.
However, the EAPL–CF’s politicians claim, that they were not able to familiarize themselves with the survey results.
“We have such a crime theme here, because nobody wants to present these results. Why is this a secret information, why can’t LRT announce the results of all the candidates, so that we know where our candidate was and for what reasons she was not invited to participate in the programme? – wondered Wanda Krawczonok during the press conference. As she recalled, EAPL–CF has the second highest number of councilmen in Vilnius City Council, and in the previous local government elections the party was second in Vilnius.
According to the Central Electoral Commission, in 2015 the coalition of Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Russian Alliance “Block of Valdemar Tomaševski” received 38138 votes, which allowed the party to win 10 mandates in the city council.
Krawczonok: Internet for the richer voters
“For this reason, we have doubts and see a clear violation of the principle of equality. On Friday we warned CEC that we were leaving ourselves the right to defend our interests in court” – said Krawczonok.
In its comments, the LRT stated that all candidates had the opportunity to prepare video statements: “Currently, the LRT is finishing filming the statements of representatives of all parties and social committees, as well as candidates for Mayors. From 18 February they will be available to be watched on a special page of the lrt.lt portal” – the television argues.
According to Wanda Krawczonok, such a possibility violates voters’ rights because not everyone has access to the Internet. “In the regions many people don’t have access to the Internet, it is the LRT viewers, sometimes older people. If we bet only on the Internet, it means that the information will reach only the more liberal voter, who is richer”, says a Member of Parliament.
Translated by Dominika Kownacka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.