Alcohol beverage in Lithuania
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

The Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union (LVŽS) has earned 19 mandates in the multi-mandate electoral district, another 42 politicians are vying to be elected in the second round in single-mandate districts.

But Ramūnas Karbauskis, the party leader is already thinking of a “Peasant” led coalition and is trying to intimidate voters with the potential for a Social Democrat (LSDP) and Conservative (TS-LKD) “rainbow” coalition, if his party fails to maintain support for the second round.

“I want to describe one possibility. The possibility of a deal between the Conservatives and Social Democrats is very realistic because they may have no other choice. It could be that we will be left in the opposition because they will want to avoid change. If we have a weak performance in the second round, if few voters turn up to the second round (it could happen, some would want it to happen, that voters wouldn’t go to the second round), in such a case the Conservatives and Social Democrats earn many votes, we earn a decent amount, but in such a case ours is not enough for either side. In such a case the Conservatives and Social Democrats could make a deal,” R. Karbauskis said during a live Delfi conference.

The politician also endeavoured to accent that the Conservatives intend to suggest Andrius Kubilius, former PM during the crisis, as Minister of Finance and Gabrielius Landsbergis as Prime Minister, while noting the possibility of figures such as Social Democrat Juozas Olekas in other ministries. “That’s the sort of cabinet we would have,” the politician drew apocalyptic imagery. The scenario is based on what the party leader describes as “mathematical calculations”.

R. Karbauskis is already considering the party potentially earning 61 Seimas mandates and is attempting to intimidate potential coalition partners, claiming that the “Peasants” are “very tough negotiators”. “If we are told that we cannot do this or that, we will go to the opposition right away,” stated the party chairman.

The politician already states that he will not back down regarding ideas of an expert cabinet, pledges to change the Labour Code, review the artificial insemination law (to employ NaPro technology for artificial insemination), to establish state owned alcohol stores and state owned pharmacies and to overall expand the role of the state. Another idea of R. Karbauskis’ – to “settle” all ministries under one roof, except the ministries of environment and agriculture, which would be moved to Kaunas.

Ministers – not members of Seimas

Answering on the perceived differences between R. Karbauskis and party frontrunner Saulius Skvernelis on many questions, the LVŽS chairman stressed that he and Skvernelis are one team and urged not to believe such rumours, that they are supposedly clashing.

“I know this rumour, which is being spread, that there is a sort of fragmentation, apparently it is only possible to work against us through rumours. But we speak about any and all meetings,” said Karbauskis.

He also mused that ministers should not be members of Seimas, with the exception of the Prime Minister. The cabinet, he believes, should be comprised of experts. Karbauskis specifies that this implies expertise in a specific field, for example a medic leading the Ministry of Healthcare. When asked why Skvernelis, a former police officer, is fit for the post of PM, Karbauskis responded that such criteria are not applied to the PM, one person cannot be an expert in all spheres.

The politician also expressed criticism to the currently hospitalised Minister of Healthcare, Social Democrat Juras Požela. While wishing the minister good health, the leader of the LVŽS said that the young politician was unaware of what sort of sphere he had entered.

“I want to explain the principle itself – if we are to form an expert cabinet, the candidates to absolutely all ministries could be proposed by any coalition partner, however many they have,” said Karbauskis, adding that the President Dalia Grybauskaitė would also be involved in this process. He believes that it matters not which party proposes a minister, instead it is important that they are the most suitable for the sphere and that the minister would enact the cabinet programme.

Amending the Labour Code

R. Karbauskis also pledges to remedy the Labour Code. In his opinion discussions on the Labour Code have to be returned to the Tripartite Council, where employers, employees and the government held discussions. The politician expressed support for the President’s criticisms on the Labour Code.

The LVŽS chairman was asked, how situations where employee and employer opinions were radically different will be resolved. For example employers want overtime to be assessed every three months, while employees want this to be done every month. Employees state that doing such assessments every three months, the overtime simply vanishes. To this, Karbauskis responded that the new cabinet will hopefully listen to the employees and stressed that employers are the stronger party in negotiations.

“The current Labour Code looks to be oriented toward importing cheap foreign labour and further encouraging emigration,” stated the politician. “We have a situation where employers are not ensuring competitive conditions, people are emigrating, among them – the best specialists. That is why they are lacking,” he added, urging employers to cease making “Lithuania into China”.
In fact the politician noted that even the old Labour Code was decent. “Flexibility decreases security. A limit has to be found in this case,” he stated.

Opening state pharmacies

The LVŽS chairman also presented an idea of state pharmacies in state clinics and hospitals. He expressed belief that medication prices are too large, thus there is a need to increase competition.
“Currently I see no other model,” said Karbauskis.

The politician speaks of increasing the role of the state in certain fields. For example, according to him, the state and municipalities should not let the supply of heating and garbage disposal out of their hands.

“Where there is private capital, there heating is more expensive,” summarised the politician.

State alcohol stores – not open during weekends

R. Karbauskis described the idea of state alcohol stores, which would work on weekdays, during working hours and would stock goods from all alcohol producers.

“The system works as such: specialised state alcohol stores should stock alcohol from all manufacturers. Currently, for example, when people go to a shopping centre, they may be unable to find certain alcoholic beverages, the chains negotiate with manufacturers themselves, some are stocked, others are not,” said Karbauskis.

But such stores would not advertise anything, would bar entry to juveniles and inebriated individuals, and would work only on weekdays and during working hours.

“There would be very few such stores. The current number of locations where you can purchase alcohol and the number of stores, based on data from Scandinavia would change by tens of times. These are specialised stores, their work time – limited and they do not work during the weekends,” stated the politician.

“Someone planning a party, where they will invite friends, they will sort this out. If they lack enough to knock themselves out today, they will no longer be able to buy it,” added Karbauskis.

When asked if the budget will not lose funds by limiting alcohol consumption, Karbauskis stated that alcohol producers could maintain themselves by exporting to Russia or Belarus. “But this is not a geopolitical decision,” explained the politician.

“I do not believe that Lithuanians should become abstinent, but I am speaking of the need to protect our growing generation, we have a poor situation of alcoholism among children, we have a new problem – drugs,” said Karbauskis.

Amending the artificial insemination law

R. Karbauskis also spoke on amending the artificial insemination law. In his opinion the legislation should allow families, which are unable to have children, to first use NaPro technologies that is to use natural family planning.

On the nspinfo.lt page it is written that the NaPro technology is a natural procreation technology, a new female health science intended to observe and support a female’s procreation and gynaecological health, based on medicinal and surgical treatment, as well as a recognition of fertility based on the Creighton model.

When asked whether financial support from the state can be expected, if the couple do not succeed in having children through the NaPro technologies, the politician saw no issue with the matter.
Karbauskis also found it unacceptable that the law does not specify what should be done with unused embryos after performing artificial insemination. According to him, an embryo is a life, so destroying it is inhumane. However the politician does not intend to propose a ban on abortions in Lithuania and praised women in Poland unifying and protesting the government’s attempt to implement a total ban on abortion, even after sexual abuse.

Ministries and higher education

Another idea from this political entity is to create as if an Akropolis [large shopping centre in Vilnius] of ministries somewhere outside Vilnius. Two ministries would be exceptions, with the ministries of environment and agriculture being moved to Kaunas.

In higher education the party suggests removing the student basket and establishing free higher education, while also establishing state procurement for specialisations in spheres that lack them. Also there is an idea to raise the bar for entry, with universities selecting students based on not only state exams, but also their grades and an interview at the higher education institution.
“Not everyone will be able to enter higher education,” said Karbauskis.

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