Report: Labor, SocDems in talks

  • 2004-10-13
  • By The Baltic Times
VILNIUS - With just a week remaining to the second round of parliamentary elections, Labor Party leader Viktor Uspaskich has started secret talks with officials of the ruling Social Democrats, Lietuvos Rytas reported on Friday.

Sources within the two parties told the daily that their meeting over lunch at a Vilnius restaurant on Thursday, though they did not address a possible coalition since the elections were still incomplete. However, Uspaskich, along with Juozas Bernatonis and Gediminas Kirkilas admitted they spoke about the possibility to support each other's candidates in the second round of the elections on Oct. 24.

Candidates from both parties will compete in 16 single-mandate districts in the polls.

Kirkilas said to the daily that the competition in the districts will remain, though the two sides "spoke about the possibility of supporting each other in districts with no candidates of the Social Democrats or the Labor Party."

In the first round, the Laborites won most mandates - 23 - in the 141-seat Parliament, while the Social Democrat/Social Liberal coalition garnered 19 seats.

The second round will clear up the political force that has most odds and political weight to form the ruling majority.

Andrius Kubilius, head of the oppositional Conservatives, had proposed the ruling majority unite with right-wing forces against Labor Party candidates in the second round, an idea that Brazauskas initially welcomed.

According to Lietuvos Rytas, officials from the President's Office and the oppositional Liberal Centrists have begun talks on a rainbow coalition of the current ruling majority and oppositional parties after the elections to push the Labor Party from power. The daily said negotiators of the Social Democrats on Wednesday met with the Conservatives and the Liberal Centrists, Lithuania's two main right-of-center parties. According to the paper, the Social Democrats did not like the Conservatives' request to have the prime minister's post in exchange for their presence in the bloc.

Still, Brazauskas did not reject the possibility of a left-wing/right-wing coalition.

"However, if the Conservatives continue to make unrealistic terms, any negotiations are doomed. For example, they already want posts of prime minister and parliamentary chairman," he told the paper, adding that the Liberal Centrists had not made any preconditions.

Meanwhile, the right-wingers expressed surprise over the talks between the Social Democrats and the Labor Party.

"I have heard that the prime minister, in response to my bid to support Social Democrats' candidates against Labor Party's candidates, said that the ruling coalition might back the candidates of the Conservatives or Liberal Centrists against representatives of the Labor Party. What I hear now runs counter the prime minister's statements I have heard before," said Kubilius.