VILNIUS - Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Muntianas announced last week that he was leaving the Labor Party over dissatisfaction with the party's leadership, while a similar group of breakaway MPs agreed to cooperate with the government in Parliament and thereby restore a majority in the legislature.
After a meeting on May 9 of the three coalition partners, Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas announced that a cooperation agreement had been signed with the Civil Democrats, a group of seven MPs who broke from the Labor Party last month. The party will not have a ministerial seat but will work with the Cabinet in the legislature, Brazauskas said. Like the seven MPs, Muntianas decided to leave the Labor Party over extreme dissatisfaction with how the party was run. He even warned of a possible "slander campaign" against him by the party. Muntianas on May 4 dismissed a statement issued by Loreta Grauziniene, a senior Laborite, who claimed that he was allegedly seeking the post of prime minister. He called it a "low-level provocation and barefaced lie."
Grauziniene stated on May 3 that Muntianas' dismissal from the post of deputy chairman of the Labor Party was necessary in order to ensure stability in the country, as he was allegedly covetous of the post of prime minister. As Muntianas explained, Grauziniene's statement was one of the reasons why "presence in that party is simply impossible, as people use any measures, have no principles and lie at every step." "Such a statement by the faction elder is groundless. There isn't a grain of truth in it," he said, adding that Grauziniene's words were the beginning of a slander campaign against those criticizing the Labor Party's leadership and withdrawing from the party.
At the same time, Muntianas said the exodus of so many MPs from the Labor Party warranted the creation of a new party. "I think we should create a political party that would implement those objectives and ideas that existed during the establishment of the Labor Party," he said in an interview with Ziniu Radijas news radio on May 3. When asked about prospects of the current three-party ruling majority, Muntianas, who in April took over from Arturas Paulauskas, said he thought that it could continue working. During the Labor Party's congress on May 6, Uspaskich ousted Muntianas from the party's leadership and convinced party colleagues to pass amendments to bylaws strengthening his powers even more. The Kedainiai district mayor and the head of Kedainiai municipal administration have also said they are leaving the Labor Party.