On Dec. 15 at a Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) summit, Chairman of the LSDP and newly-appointed Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius noted that it was just a few days earlier that the government program was approved by the Seimas, and that now it is the important work that lies ahead, reports ELTA.
“We are the main party in the ruling coalition, achievements of the government and coalition will mostly depend on us. Together we are the party that has the primary responsibility and which will get the most criticism for the government work and for all the failures of the ruling coalition. This requires us to be wise, focused and responsible,” said the new prime minister.
The PM said that the next test for the party would be the repeated parliamentary election in three constituencies. The Chairman of the LSDP said that “the election will show the mood of the people, the way it is changing and whether we will manage to work so that people would evaluate, understand and trust us.”
Butkevicius, after a reading the new program at the Seimas, said that it would be “real and successfully implemented.”
“I think that the current program is real as it takes into account the country’s economic, financial and social situation, and it will be implemented successfully,” promised Butkevicius.
He noted that the program was being drafted at a very difficult time and pointed out that a number of experts, even those who would previously have criticized the proposals from the Social Democrats, now have positive evaluations about the program. “A great fight began even before the formation of the government, some 100 days ahead of it. It is a common practice in democratic countries to allow a new government to work peacefully for 100 days,” he said.
“When it comes to all kinds of fears and intimidations, I would like to say to everybody, especially the opposition, that we will be extremely responsible about decisions in the state, they will be done for the sake of people,” the new PM said.
Expectations from the president
In a meeting with the new Cabinet, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that she expected the new government to help to ease people’s lives, and gave it the tasks of managing state finances in a responsible manner, ensuring energy security, having a real fight against political and economic corruption, ensuring public welfare and properly preparing for the Presidency of the European Union (EU).
According to Grybauskaite, the new Cabinet will face big challenges that will require prudence and cohesion. “I approved the 16th government with a certain degree of trust in advance. Therefore, I will personally pay close attention whether fiscal and economic discipline is kept and information provided is realistic, whether our statehood and strategic long-term interests are not sacrificed for the sake of short-term illusion of a cheap life, whether the distribution of the EU funds and public procurement are transparent, whether oligarch interests do not make the government a hostage, whether the fight against corruption and the shadow economy is real or just an imitation,” the president said after the meeting.
Grybauskaite wished Butkevicius’ government prudence and concentration, smooth and responsible work and said that she expected constructive cooperation in order to make the best solutions for Lithuania’s people.
At the Cabinet meeting, the president also said Lithuania must get ready for the euro introduction, which she sees in 2015-2016. “The goal of the government is to have the euro in 2015,” Butkevicius confirmed.
However, without a clear evaluation of the government’s program, Grybauskaite said that she wishes it success, and that only time will tell if it is a good or a bad government.
“Like with any other government, I wish success to this one, because it is the government of Lithuania; time will tell if it is good or bad. Meanwhile, we all need a working state that helps people; this is what people are expecting from it,” she said last week in Brussels where she was attending a European Council meeting.
Students dissatisfied with the new program and the changes it promises in the higher education system held a protest at the Seimas already on Dec. 12. The students said that the higher education reform implemented by the outgoing government was a step ahead, and the imperfections can be improved upon, but that it should not be destroyed and started all over again. Students held up posters saying ‘Bukevicius do not cut contact with students,’ ‘There was a step forward, now two backwards.’
Chairman of the Lithuanian National Union of Students (LSS) Dainius Diksaitis says that students are frustrated because the provisions related to higher education included in the new program were made without taking into account their opinion. Diksaitis said that the LSS has submitted proposals for the new government and he hopes that they will be taken into account.
Outgoing Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius wished the new government to not only make careful decisions while working with state finances, but also to talk responsibly.
“I wish the new government to drop populist rhetoric and move to a very strict understanding of reality, especially while talking on and dealing with issues related to the state finances. Here I want to emphasize the word ‘to talk.’ Because the financial situation not only depends on the decision-making, increasing or decreasing income and expenses, but it equally depends on the things that are being said,” Kubilius said. He added that everything that is being said is important because it influences the way international markets view Lithuania.
Swearing in new government
On Dec. 13, Lithuania’s 16th government, led by Butkevicius, was sworn in at the Seimas. The new government is composed of ministers delegated by the Social Democrats (LSDP), the Labor Party (DP), Order and Justice (TT) and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (LLRA).
The Seimas also approved the government program 2012 - 2016 submitted by Butkevicius. After deliberation and voting on the program, the oath of the new ministers took place. The new government program was supported by 83 MPs, 39 were against and 9 abstained. The program discusses the key values for the country, reviews the inherited situation in Lithuania and outlines the main directions and urgent priorities of the 2012-2016 government.