VILNIUS 's Tension in the government went up a notch after the Social Democrats' presidium said on Wednesday that the party would withdraw from the coalition if Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas was forced to resign.
The act of brinkmanship threw doubt over the stability of the coalition as the leading partner, the Labor Party, continued to hint that the government could survive without Brazauskas, whose family business deals have come under fire in recent weeks.
Even President Valdas Adamkus expressed doubt that the coalition 's which contains four parties 's would manage to pull through the crisis.
"After the decision made at the meeting of the Social Democratic Party's presidium, the president is unsure whether partners in the ruling coalition will be able to continue working as a team and whether the agreements stipulated in the coalition agreement will be retained," the president's spokeswoman, Rita Grumadaite, told the Baltic News Service on Wednesday.
The president has tried to calm the situation by depoliticizing the Brazauskas business affair and handing it over to law enforcement officials, but it would appear the damage it done. The opposition Conservatives won't let up in their scathing attacks on Brazauskas' lack of ethics, while Labor Party officials have been floating of having their candidate take the prime minister's place.
Laborite Viktoras Muntianas was quoted as saying on Wednesday, "One person, no matter who he is, cannot decide the fate of the state. This is the political responsibility of political parties that won the elections, and a party cannot dodge the responsibility."
The Labor Party is the clear leader in every poll, and led by Viktor Uspaskich, members have been touring the country to get their message across to voters. Many both in and outside the coalition fear a Labor-led government, given the irrational, populist promises the party made during the parliamentary election campaign earlier this year.
Social Democrats Ceslovas Jursenas said the presidium's statement was a signal to its partners. "This is a sign for our partners to understand our serious determination 's either we work, or we don't," he said. "This is not blackmailing, we're just saying honestly that the coalition is in danger under such conditions," he told journalists.