Lithuania’s Liberal and Centre Union Party, and National Resurrection Party merged during Saturday’s common congress. The new party is said to stand for the liberal “third way”, (a type of centre-left progressive politics). Algis Čaplikas, former leader of Liberal and Centre Union, became the leader of the new party, while Arūnas Valinkas, former leader of the National Resurrection Party, became the party’s deputy leader.
On the same day, around 3,000 people protested in Vilnius against the policies of the Government. People marched from Parliament to the Government, shouting phrases such as “No to poverty”, and “European wages for Lithuanian workers”. Members of the opposition, including Algirdas Butkevičius, Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, and Algirdas Sysas, were also present at the protest. People gathered in the capital from across Lithuania, demanding the easing of social tensions, and an increase in the minimum wages to 1,000 Litas a month.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė approved the law restricting the financial support given to political parties. From now on, corporate and legal persons as well as individuals will not be able to financially support political parties. Grybauskaitė has claimed that the law will front a new era in political practice, based on ideas and honesty, rather than money. The level of corruption in the political sphere is expected to decline.
Talks regarding the possibility of a minority government emerged, although Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said that he would not even consider the possibility of minority government. Irena Degutienė, Speaker of Seimas, meanwhile, said that it is always a possibility, as the coalition is said to frequently disagree on a number of issues, including tax, and the transfer of Sodra pension funds to private accounts.
Almost 100 members of parliament have voted in favour of a change to the Constitution, linking the notion of family to the notion of marriage. The proposal will be accepted if 94 Seimas voters, (of a total of 141), approve the change in two voting sessions within a three month period.
On the same day, the coalition decided to transfer 1.5% of Sodra pension funds to private accounts. Meanwhile, the decision on a luxury and expensive vehicle tax was postponed until Spring 2012.
December 15 also saw members of Parliament vote on two legislatures, leading to permission for persons who have undergone impeachment to be elected to Parliament. This would allow former President Rolandas Paksas to be elected to Parliament.
Snoras shareholders Vladimir Antonov and Raimondas Baranauskas were charged with financial fraud, and faced London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The court considered Lithuania’s request to extradite Antonovas and Baranauskas. Representatives portrayed the bankers as martyrs, comparing the case to that of Michail Chodorkovsky. The court made the decision to postpone the trial for eight weeks.
Text by Marija Antanavičiūtė
Edited by Charlotte Radford