Landscape before the election battle looks colorful

  • 2000-08-17
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis
VILNIUS - There are some 40 political parties in Lithuania, but only a few of them are the main riders in the parliamentary election derby. Four parties - the New Union (Social Liberals), the Liberal Union, the Center Union and the Modern Christian Democratic Union - enjoy the semi-official patronage of President Valdas Adamkus.

These four political unions have not formed a common candidate list prior to elections, but they have agreed to cooperate closely after elections. They proclaim themselves to be a coalition of liberal forces. They say that this loose liberal bloc is a middle way, an alternative to the Right and the Left who have run things for the 10 years since Lithuania reestablished independence.

On the left flank is the united election list of the Social Democratic coalition. This bloc includes the Democratic Labor Party, the Social Democratic Party and New Democracy (Women's Party). Honorary chairman of the Social Democratic coalition is former President Algirdas Brazauskas. He promised to occupy the post of prime minister should this left bloc win in elections.

On the right flank is the currently ruling Conservative Party, led by current Chairman of Parliament Vytautas Landsbergis.

According to a July survey conducted by the Lithuanian-British polling company Baltijos Tyrimai published in the daily Lietuvos Zinios, the New Union is the absolute leader in the political horse race.

If elections were held now, some 16.5 percent of Lithuanians would cast their votes for the party of Arturas Paulauskas, the country's first prosecutor general after reestablishment of independence in 1990. His noisy campaign is strongly supported by Viktor Uspaskich and other well-known Lithuanian businessmen.

According to the same survey, the Liberal Union of Vilnius Mayor Rolandas Paksas comes in second, far behind with 6.9 percent of votes.

Sociologists predict a fiasco for the ruling Conservative Party in the coming elections, and it appears they're getting nervous. Conservatives characterize Paulauskas as a leftist politician while he describes himself as a follower of the political line of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, both representatives of the center left.

Foreign policy goals of all major political parties are the same - the country's membership in the European Union and NATO. Most of mutual accusations are about interior social issues.