Lithuanian conservatives move to oblige candidates to declare Communist membership

  • 2023-05-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – MPs Paule Kuzmickiene and Andrius Vysniauskas of the conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats have registered legislative amendments that would oblige candidates standing in an election to declare their past Soviet Communist Party membership or risk being removed from the race.  

The amendments to the Electoral Code would require candidates to disclose not only their past collaboration with the KGB, as they currently have to do, but also their past Communist Party membership and any senior positions if held. 

This information would be displayed on election posters, and the Central Electoral Commission would have to check if candidates have in the past been members of the Communist Party. 

If it turns out that a candidate concealed their former Communist Party affiliation, they would be excluded from the election. This currently applies to former secret collaborators of the Soviet security services.

If it emerges after the election that a person elected as a municipal councilor or mayor, or a member the European Parliament has in the past been a member of the Communist Party and held a position in the party structures, their mandate would be cancelled. If such information becomes known about a president or a member of the Seimas, they could face an impeachment. 

The initiators say voters have the right to know important facts about a candidate's biography, because this could determine their decision.  

The conservative MPs drafted the amendments to the Electoral Code after it emerged in early April that Gitanas Nauseda failed to disclose his past Communist Party membership when he ran for president in 2019. 

Nauseda joined the Communist Party, which ruled Lithuania during the Soviet era, in 1988, but failed to disclose this to the public. When this fact came to light, he called the decision to join the party "a mistake of his youth".

The president said he did not commit a formal violation when he did not answer a question about his present or past political affiliations in the Central Electoral Commission's questionnaire, because it was an optional question. However, he admits that he could have "morally done so".

The news about the president's Communist Party membership at the end of the Soviet era has adversely affected his popularity ratings.

A recent Vilmorus poll showed that the news had swayed the opinion of 20.7 percent of respondents toward the negative side.

Some 61.2 percent of those polled said their opinion about the president had not changed, and 3.3 percent said their opinion had turned positive.