The contours of the Social Democrat position regarding the coalition’s fate are slowly emerging. And only the Jonava branch, led by Minister of Economy Mindaugas Sinkevičius, spoke up in support of continued work with the “Farmers”.
While political analysts say that there will definitely still be conflicts in the Social Democrat ranks, M. Sinkevičius assures that he is certainly not clinging to his minister post and the decision on the coalition's future should be based on calculations and not emotion.
"Farmers" have to apologise?
Minister of Economy and Social Democrat Jonava branch chairman Mindaugas Sinkevičius assures that there were varied opinions within the party. From proposals to demand an apology from the "Farmers" to the decision to remain in it and continue working.
"The branch had varied opinions. There are colleagues who are discontent that we are in a coalition with the "Farmers", but they end up signing further agreements with the opposition. Some even proposed to demand an apology. Other colleagues expressed surprise why the responsibility for the coalition's future is left upon the branches though they only know the inner workings of politics from the media. There was something of an effort to say that democracy may not necessarily lead to the most adequate decisions," the Minister of Economy said.
According to the politician, the current situation looks like emotions would play a major role in decision making. And this, he notes, harms the political stability of the country. "Our branch concluded that for now there are insufficient reasons for such a radical decision," M. Sinkevičius summed up his branch's decision.
Another struggle between G. Paluckas and M. Sinkevičius?
Vytautas Magnus University Department of Social Science dean Algis Krupavičius says that it is not hard to find parallels between the branches' positions and the party chairman election.
"I believe that the spheres of influence will repeat in the other Social Democrat Party branches. The second stage of the party chairman election was based on the so called rat race principle. The difference was minute. And it would appear that the picture of the coalition's future may significantly relate to the leadership election. The branches that supported G. Paluckas will likely be inclined to support withdrawing, while those that supported M. Sinkevičius will likely support remaining in the coalition," A. Krupavičius explains.
He also predicts that the branches' decisions to remain or withdraw from the coalition will be roughly even.
"The situation will not be all that simple. It is possible that the condition will be very bad. Whichever side wins, will do so with a small lead. And the party leadership will be left with a massive puzzle, deciding what to choose. On the other hand, if the result is roughly even, the party leadership will have free hands to choose what to do and decide how they see fit," the expert told tv3.lt.
He also assures that the conflict between the Social Democrat Seimas group and party chairman G. Paluckas is real.
M. Sinkevičius: I will not cling to the post of minister
In response to the political scientist's words, the Minister of Economy assures that there will be a divide in the branches. However whether there will be a parallel of support for him or G. Paluckas, it is hard to say for now.
Nevertheless Sinkevičius finds predisposition for a set position most irksome. This way any negotiations lose meaning, the minister says.
"My position has always been moderate. When speaking and negotiating you can never be a winner, you have to seek compromise. I hope that the party will make the most rational decision. This would mean distancing ourselves from "love, don't love" and "like, don't like". That we will think of the country and the people, not intrigue and squabbling," the Minister of Economy says.
He states that as a member of the ministerial cabinet, he had no personal interest regarding the decision made in his branch.
"Personally, as someone with a subjectivity criterion, being a member of the cabinet, I consider both scenarios – departure and remaining. And most certainly, I am not clinging to my post of minister. That is not my direct interest," M. Sinkevičius told tv3.lt.
He assures that the final decision will be made on September 23, when the party national council gathers. In it, if necessary, the fate of the coalition will be voted on.
Pre-programmed conflict between group and chairman?
Incumbent party chairman G. Paluckas, prior to being elected chairman, openly stated that the Social Democrats should not be satisfied with the coalition. He confirmed this several weeks ago following the signing of the "Farmer"-Conservative agreement.
So far the Social Democrat group in Seimas remains moderate, only a few members have openly spoken of leaving the coalition. So how will the chairman interact with the Seimas group? One that, it would appear, has no interest in withdrawing.
M. Sinkevičius assures that conflict could arise. Nevertheless it is not a scenario he desires.
"All sorts of scenarios can develop. I do not dismiss the potential for such a scenario. But I would certainly not want to take sides. I will definitely not be one to escalate the situation. If the party does choose to leave the coalition, I will support the democratically chosen position. The potential for conflict can always occur due to differences in opinion. It is likely that is what may happen in autumn. But I hope that we will find that third way," M. Sinkevičius assures.
4 branches have made their decision
4 of 60 branches of the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party have made their decision regarding the coalition with the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union. The party presidium has requested the branches' opinions.
3 branches – Palanga, Alytus and Telšiai – have chosen to request withdrawal from the coalition, while the Jonava branch has voted to remain.
LSDP Palanga branch chairman Danas Paluckas states that their decision was made unanimously.
The Telšiai city branch made an analogous decision on July 19 during a council meeting. According to deputy chairperson Vilija Bačionienė, the branch members were split between proposing to withdraw and proposing to renegotiate the coalition agreement, but the first variant won out.
The Alytus branch also voted for the coalition with the "Farmers" to be terminated.
Discussions on the purpose of remaining in a coalition with the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens arose among the Social Democrats after the Farmer Greens signed an agreement with the opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, trading the latter's support for the amendments to the Forest Law in return for returning the VAT exemption for central heating.
The Social Democrats agreed with the cabinet's proposed forest management reform with certain exceptions and requested their coalition partners to consider the side effects of the changes upon the regions. With the "Farmers" making a support agreement with an opposition party, negotiations on this quest within the coalition lost meaning.
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