VILNIUS - Viktoras Muntianas, chairman of the Seimas (Lithuania's parliament), survived a no-confidence vote last week, the minority ruling coalition's first serious test so far. Only 36 legislators in the 141-member Parliament supported a vote of no-confidence against Muntianas, who also heads the Civil Democracy Party. Twenty-two MPs voted the initiative down and 11 ballots were found spoiled in the Sept. 21 secret ballot vote. To remove Muntianas from his position 71 votes were needed.
"This vote was the first serious test for Lithuania's new ruling coalition, and it demonstrated that, despite some inside frictions, the new coalition gives priority to stability and is set to do its best to keep the coalition running," Alvydas Lukosaitis, political analyst from Vilnius Institute for International Relations and Political Sciences told The Baltic Times.
The no-confidence vote was initiated by the Liberal Democratic Party, headed by impeached President Rolandas Paksas. The party defended their choice with a June 30 Supreme Administrative Court ruling, which stated that Muntianas' public comments on the courts' decision against deporting Jurijus Borisovas, Paksas' main financial supporter during 2003 presidential elections, violated the Constitution.
However, except for the Labor Party, whose former chairman, Viktor Uspaskich, is currently hiding in Moscow, no other parliamentary group supported the initiative. Parties belonging to the ruling coalition 's the Social Democrats, Civil Democratic Party, Liberal and Center Union and Peasant's and People's Party 's refused to participate in the vote, while major opposition parties Homeland Union and Social Liberals announced they would not support the attack against Mutianas.
"The fact that ruling coalition parties decided not to vote shows that there is some anxiety and mistrust inside the coalition, but on the other hand it also shows the intention to work together," Lukosaitis said.
Since the end of July, Lithuania has been governed by the first ever minority government, headed by Social Democrat Gediminas Kirkilas.
The coalition currently has only 55 votes in Parliament and the informal support of the Homeland Union, the major right-wing party in the legislature.
Lithuania's previous government, led by Algirdas Brazauskas, also a Social Democrat, collapsed in May when the Labor Party recalled its ministers following President Valdas Adamkus' statement that he had no confidence in two Labor Party ministers.
Soon after, Muntianas, and eight MP's quit the Labor Party and established a new political organization, which decided to enter into a coalition with Social Democrats.
"But the key figure in the coalition is not Muntianas, but the conservatives, although formally they are not part of it. The coalition's stability very much depends on their position, and the no-confidence vote against Muntianas demonstrated that the Conservatives tend to allow this to work," Lukosaitis said.
"In exchange, this gives them the right for initiative and control, which the Conservatives may use in their favor. The only question is how long such a situation will continue," he added.