New Cabinet takes shape

  • 2008-11-19
  • By Justinas Vainilavicius

VILNIUS - The coalition agreement for a new government has been signed, and it is now up to the parties to name their preferred candidates for the new Cabinet and submit the names for approval by the president.
"Some of the candidates look right for the positions, the others 's not really. However, the question is whether they will have strong political will to reform the system," Jurate Novagrockiene of the Vilnius University Politics and International Relations Institute said.
The Kubilius-led conservatives will govern key ministries, including the ministries of Economy, Defense and Foreign Affairs. The proposed candidates for the ministers are Dainius Kreivys, Rasa Jukneviciene and Vygaudas Usackas respectively.

"I doubt that Kreivys, who was quite a failure as a businessman, is going to be a good Economy minister. He suggested that subsidies should be reduced for agriculture, and producers should change the field they are working in. That is not a wise decision now, when export is down," Novagrockiene said.
She thinks that Jukneviciene and Usackas are the right people to take minister jobs in the Defense and Foreign Affairs ministries. Jukneviciene was always a member of the Defense and Security Committee in the Seimas [Lithuanian parliament] and she has a lot of experience in the field.

Usackas, an independent right-leaning candidate, has worked for a long time in diplomacy and in the Foreign Service. He does not take as harsh a line toward Russia as conservatives do.
Novagrockiene is the most optimistic about the candidate that the Liberal Union proposed for the Ministry of Justice.

"Simasius is a very good candidate to be a minister for Justice because he does not belong to the so-called clan of lawmakers, who are corrupt. He would be a young minister and a very perspective one," she said.
Along with two ministries, the National Resurrection Party has already secured the Parliamentary Speaker's position and has given the post to party leader Arunas Valinskas. He was elected on the first working day of the new Seimas.

Lithuania's center-right coalition partners have also agreed to reorganize Lithuanian Ministries. The proposed changes include establishing a new Energy Ministry and a Ministry of Innovations, Business and Labour in place of the current Ministry of Economics.
The Social Affairs and Labor Ministry will become the Family and Social Affairs Ministry. The departments responsible for the labour market under the current Social Affairs and Labour Ministry will be transferred over to the Ministry of Innovations, Business and Labor.

Lastly, the Agriculture Ministry will be reorganized to become the Ministry of Rural Affairs.

Ministries of Homeland Union 's Christian Democrats


Conservative Dainius Kreivys is going to be the new minister for economy, the most challenging position in the current complicated economic situation. He is an economy analyst and consultant, and board council chairman for the "Baldenis" furniture company.


Rasa Jukneviciene will be taking the post of defense minister. She is a signatory of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania and has been a member of Homeland Union since it was founded. She is in favor of restoring compulsory military service despite the fact it was made volunteer only recently by the Social Democrats' government.


Gintaras Usackas is going to take the minister for Foreign Affairs position. He is not a member of any political party, but will work as conservative proposed minister in the government. He is currently a Lithuanian ambassador to the United Kingdom. Before that he was the ambassador to the United States.


The new coalition is planning to rename the "Social Defense and Labor Ministry" the "Family and Social Affairs Ministry." The new minister is going to be Rimantas Dagys, a conservative, who was a member of Parliament in 1996-2000, a Social Democrat at that time, and also a member of previous Seimas as a conservative.


The Agriculture Ministry is going to be governed by Kaziemiras Starkevicius, a conservative MP. He is well known for organizing an annual Christmas event in Kaunas. He is the author of his party's Rural Development program.


Arvydas Sekmokas is said to be the head of proposed Ministry of Energy, which is slated to be established sometime during the upcoming government's reign.  

Ministries of Liberal Union


Remigijus Simasius, president of Lithuanian Free Market Institute, accepted a Liberal Union proposal to be a minister for Justice. He is not a member of any political party. He is so far the youngest candidate for a minister's job in the coalition. He is critical of the coalition's anti-crisis plan, however, and therefore may not run for a position or may resign after a few months.


Eligijus Masiulis, the leader of Liberal Union, is going to govern the Ministry of Transport.


Gintaras Steponavicius of the Liberal Union is going to be the minister for Education and Science.

Ministries of National Resurrection Party


Actor Remigijus Vilkaitis is a member of the Valinskas'-led National Resurrection Party and a candidate to become the minister for Culture. He is famous for the characters he created, especially the one based on Labor Union leader Viktor Uspaskich, for a popular satiric TV show Dviracio Sou. He is also the godfather of Uspaskich's daughter and a close friend of Valinskas.


The list of names of candidates for this post changes every week. The most recent candidate is Vincas Babilius, a party member. The week before, the president, after talks with Kubilius, suggested Ruta Baskyte, director of the State Service for Protected Areas. However, this was not discussed with the National Resurrection Party, which has the right to choose the candidate.

Ministries of Liberal and Center Union


Raimundas Palaitis is the leading candidate for Interior Minister. He was a member of the previous Seimas but was not elected again.


Algis Caplikas, a former Deputy Speaker, is a candidate for the post. He was a minister 10 years ago for the now defunct Urban Planning Ministry, and after that for the Environment Ministry. Arturas Zuokas was supposed to apply for this position, but coalition partners, namely Kubilius, expressed his disapproval over his bribery conviction while mayor of Vilnius.