Kirkilas threatens to resign

  • 2007-09-28
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

UNDER PRESSURE: Kirkilas has in effect told parliament to 'back me or sack me' (Pic: Fotobankas)

VILNIUS - After threatening to resign if the parliament approves amendments that he believes would unbalance the budget, Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has pointed the finger at the new opposition majority faced by his minority administration.

"I believe that the government will not agree to operate under the conditions as they are now when nearly every meeting of the parliament adopts decisions that fully unbalance state finances. A new majority is forming or has already formed, and it makes decisions without even thinking that someday they may have to be put into practice," the prime minister said during the government's weekly question-and-answer session Sep. 26.

Asked to explain his statement, Kirkilas indicated that opposition parties were planning to vote against the government as a matter of course, without really considering the effect such actions might have.

"I see who votes for populist decisions - the Conservatives, the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats," said Kirkilas, the leader of the Social Democrats.

The three opposition groups agreed last week to support each other in all parliamentary ballots on major legislation.

Now the prime minister seems to have finally lost patience and even threatened to use the last major card he holds in his hand 's resignation. That came after parliament approved discussion of amendments to the state budget that would increase pensions far beyond government-approved levels and would draw an extra half billion litas (xxx euros) from state coffers. Such a move would ruin the government's attempt at gaining tight fiscal control and cooling Lithuania's overheating economy.

Immediately after the ballot, the Kirkilas stated the move would unbalance the budget, adding that the government could not take the responsibility for ruining state finances. If the amendments are approved when the bill comes before parliament, Kirkilas will quit in protest.

The opposition Conservatives had been supporting the government's operations for more than a year, but terminated their support on Sept. 8 due to what they said were high levels of corruption and problems at the State Security Department.

Kirkilas' threat to resign if he does not win the day seems to be real, and opposition politicians would do well to consider it as such. While he may not be the most charismatic politician in Lithuania, Kirkilas has managed to establish at least some degree of stability under difficult circumstances in a little more than a year.

If he goes, what little confidence the markets have in Lithuanian governance will be undermined and there is no guarantee that the engineers of his downfall would find themselves in a stronger position after elections. Even if they did win, they would inherit an economy they had fundamentally weakened in their grab for power.