VILNIUS - As expected, the congress of the Liberal Democrat Party on Dec. 11 restored Rolandas Paksas, its erstwhile leader, to the chairman's position and gave prominence to the party's traditional symbolism.
By way of honoring the impeached president, the Liberal Democrat Party decided to modify the party's icon - a yellow eagle - which is widely associated with Paksas himself. "The yellow eagle should from now on become a golden one on [the background of] our flag," party member Valdas Zalnerauskas said. His proposal was immediately approved.
While most party members heaped praise on Paksas, some opposed the so-called "regime" in the party's heirarchy. Pagegiai Mayor Kestas Komskis declared that the previous chairman, Valentinas Mazuronis, had acted like a dictator and that Paksas' behavior has not changed.
He read an open letter from the Zemaitija region criticizing the party's current leadership. "'We do not know the future. We do not see a goal. We have lost the confidence of our electorate. We don't want to be radicals. We are valuable only when the agitation material needs to be distributed. No one wants to interact with us. We are forgotten by our leaders,'" Komskis read.
Prior to the decisive vote, Paksas read a 20-minute speech in which he strongly criticized Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and the newly approved government coalition. He repeated his previous words that "an aim to establish order in the country would at some point be recognized."
Not once did the impeached president mention any of his own mistakes.
In the end, 329 out of 435 congress participants supported Paksas' return.
Independent experts said that the Liberal Democratic Party suffers from a leader-cult and that the rank-and-file long for a strong arm. What's more, Paksas' re-election signifies the continuity of the party's marginal image, they said.
At the same time experts were at a loss to say what Paksas' true ambition was since he has been barred by the Constitutional Court from holding any political positions which require taking an oath of allegiance.
"A few times the Liberal Democratic leader stood out for his far-from-reality political ambitions, his attempts to climb over the heads of others and violate the law. Perhaps some regard him as a maximalist or an obstinate person, but this seems more likely to be political schizophrenia," Mindaugas Jurkynas, a political analyst at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, wrote on the news portal omni.
Jurkynas also added that Paksas is reluctant to accept the loss of political influence, and the return to the chairman's position is another attempt to revive his tattered political career.
The Liberal Democratic faction has nine seats in the 140-seat Parliament.