• 2009-02-04


At the latest Vilnius protest 's which only drew about 100 people despite claims that tens of thousands would show up 's Algirdas Paleckis, the protest organizer and a leader of the Frontas political party, said he believed the prime minister was "pathetic" because he would not hold a dialogue with Frontas.
If there was ever a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is it.
Frontas had high hopes when it split from the ruling Social Democrats in the lead up to last year's elections. Those hopes were dashed, however, when the new party was so utterly defeated in the election that it failed to even garner enough votes to win a single seat in Parliament.

Instead of taking the hint and trying to rebrand itself, coming up with a fresh platform or just accepting defeat and joining up with another party, Frontas decided it would try to ride the wave of popular discontent over the state of the economy. It decided to try to drive the government out of office and get a second chance.
The "political party" decided to follow through with plans to protest against the government even after they were denied a permit to protest and the trade unions withdrew their support. They even took it up as a cause, claiming they were "protesting for the right to protest." Somehow it seems doubtful they would have called the whole thing off if they had received permission to march.

Moreover, calling for the government's resignation is something of a moot point right now. The current government received a fresh mandate from voters just a few months ago, and any other politicians that took over would be faced with making the same unpopular economic decisions that the current government is struggling with.
It is not that holding too many demonstrations will, in itself, dull the edge of protests as a political tool. This is evidenced by the successful farmer's protest in Riga on the same day, which saw the Agriculture Minister's resignation.

What dulls the edge is using the tool unnecessarily. One hundred people and a bucket of onions are not going to convince the prime minister, president (who is one of the most popular politicians in the country), and parliamentary speaker to step down. It wasn't even enough to convince them that they needed to talk to the disgraced party that organized the protest. All it is going to accomplish is disillusioning both politicians and the electorate about the effectiveness of a peaceful protest.

Frontas needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. The party failed to win a single seat in the recent elections 's what makes the party leadership think it will fare any better if another round were called?
There are plenty of problems in Baltic politics 's not to mention the economies. It is time to start addressing existing problems, rather than stirring up more trouble in a vain attempt to justify personal failures.
Frankly, it's pathetic.