VILNIUS - Political scientist, lecturer at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science Mazvydas Jastramskis says that the Lithuanian president’s decision that some Labor Party candidates are not acceptable to assume the posts of ministers does not have a significant impact on the future of the coalition, reports ELTA. The key event is the forthcoming vote on lifting the legal immunity of Labor Party members Viktor Uspaskich, Vytautas Gapsys and Vitalija Vonzutaite.
“I do not think that specific names of the ministers are the most important part of the negotiations for the Labor Party. The legal immunity of Uspaskich, Gapsys and Vonzutaite is a much more important issue. It is precisely the vote on these Labor members, not the Cabinet formation, that will show whether this ruling coalition will work together. If the legal immunity is lifted, the coalition may collapse,” said the political scientist.
Mazvydas notes that incoming Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius made a reasonable move by submitting the Cabinet list to the president with two names missing, because otherwise the consequences would be unpredictable.
On Dec. 7 Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite signed a decree, approving the 16th government; however, the Cabinet at the time of signing was not yet complete. So far, the list does not have ministers to head the Ministry of Social Security and Labor, and the Ministry of Science and Education.
Nonetheless, Grybauskaite approved 12 of the 14 Cabinet members proposed by Prime Minister-designate Butkevicius, saying the country needed a new government to take office without further delay, reports Bloomberg. “Important work and decisions are waiting,” Grybauskaite said on Dec. 7 in a statement e-mailed by her office. “That’s why I signed the decree to approve a government whose composition is incomplete.”
The decision ends a six-week post-election stalemate between the president and a coalition of four parties with a majority in parliament, led by Butkevicius’ Social Democrats. Grybauskaite rejected two of the Labor Party’s four candidates for Cabinet posts.
“Prime Minister-designate Algirdas Butkevicius has failed to submit a complete coordinated list of candidates for ministers. Today the PM presented only 12 candidates for ministers, assuming personal responsibility for each of them (…) the candidates chosen by him are very different in terms of their competence. Some of them meet only the minimum requirements for performing their direct duties and properly representing Lithuania abroad. The requirements posed on all the candidates, irrespective of their party affiliation, were equal and the same. The government must start working in time because there is a lot of work and many important decisions ahead. Therefore, based on the submission made by the PM, I have signed a decree approving the 16th government in its incomplete composition,” she said.
Grybauskaite then wished the incoming government successful work for the benefit of all the people of Lithuania.
Grybauskaite, however, opposes 3 of the candidates: Loreta Grauziniene, Virginija Baltraitiene and Kestutis Dauksys. Incoming Prime Minister Butkevicius says he will submit 3 other candidates. “Other ministers will be proposed after the oath,” he said last Friday morning after a 30 minute meeting with the president.
Presidential Adviser on Domestic Policy Mindaugas Linge says that President Grybauskaite nominated Social Democratic Leader Butkevicius for the post of prime minister and approved of the government with two members of the Labor Party because the other majority was not formed.
To the question why Grybauskaite approved of the majority with the Labor Party, although initially the president was against the Labor Party participation in the ruling coalition, Linge answered that it was necessary to distinguish several stages of the government formation process.
“It is very important to highlight and distinguish several stages. At first, after the parliamentary elections, the president outlined her position and spoke of the support for such political force that will be able to form the majority without the Labor Party, but as we have seen, only the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party was able to form the majority, with the Labor Party,” said Linge in an interview with radio Ziniu Radijas on Dec. 11.
Linge says that the responsibility for the participation of the Labor Party in the coalition falls on Butkevicius.
On Tuesday incoming Prime Minister Butkevicius presented the program of the 16th government to the Seimas. Butkevicius pointed out that the key measure of the government’s performance was the well-being of Lithuanian people, while the main value and the source of wealth was work.
According to the incoming PM the new government will pay particular attention to increasing the employment rate. “Work is the main value and source of wealth. Therefore great focus in the government program is put on job creation and the preservation of old ones. The increase of employment is the key condition to reduce the unemployment, reduce emigration and tame the economic crisis,” said the incoming PM.
Butkevicius also stressed the solidarity and the importance of social justice. “A very important condition for the economy to recover is the dialogue between employees and employers, based on solidarity and social justice. We all have to share crisis hardships. Problems should not be shifted on the shoulders of ordinary people,” he added.
Butkevicius also pointed out the importance of the fight against corruption. The culture of respect for law should be developed in the society. The incoming PM also says that Lithuania has to adopt the euro by 2015.
He expects to win lawmakers’ approval and take office on Dec. 13, according to his spokeswoman, Evelina Butkute. The 141-member legislature, in which three seats are unoccupied, authorized him to form a government on Nov. 22 by a vote of 90 to 40 with 4 abstentions.
“The government can work perfectly well without two ministers” until Labor proposes new candidates, Butkute said on Dec. 7.
The new Cabinet will consist of Valentinas Mazuronis as Minister of Environment, Jaroslav Neverovich as Minister of Energy, Rimantas Sadzius as Minister of Finance, Juozas Olekas as Minister of National Defense, Sarunas Birutis as Minister of Culture, Rimantas Sinkevicius as Minister of Transport and Communications, Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis in the Health Ministry, Juozas Bernatonis as Minister of Justice, Linas Antanas Linkevicius as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Birute Vesaite as Minister of Economy, Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas as Minister of the Interior and Viligijus Jukna at the Ministry of Agriculture.