A proper clean-up of the Social Demcratic party following a raft of recent scandals could cost the Social Democrats the upcoming parliamentary elections, according to Vincentas Vobolevičius, the head of politics at ISM University of Management and Economics.
Algirdas Butkevičius
© DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

Vobolevičius said that at least one more minister, most probably the Environment Minister would be forced to resign by the Prime Minister but it was less clear that regional players who were key to the Social Democrat’s performance in upcoming elections, like the Mayor of Druskininkai would be forced to step down.

“For the Social Democrats this is almost mission impossible, as a quick distancing of itself from the regional mayors, all of whom are more or less involved in some controversy would result in worse outcome in elections. That is why the Social Democrats and the Prime Minister are in a very difficult position,” he told LRT programme Savaitė.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė and the opposition parties have pressuring the ruling Social Democrats to take political responsibility for scandals that have followed the party recently.

Vobolevičius said that certain regional players will have a particularly significant impact on the Social Democratic Party‘s performance in the elections - Druskininkai mayor Ričardas Malinauskas who is embroiled in a scandal, being one of them. Strong local and regional party machines like Malinauskas’ were central to the party doing well in elections.

Vobolevičius questioned if this regional effect would diminish in the future and the party would move to a more election manifesto-based campaign or the effect will remain, and the party remains reliant on key personalities for success.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė was seeking to reduce the political weight of such people as Druskininkai mayor Malinauskas and increase the political weight of ministers as the former healthcare minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė who stepped down for comments on giving a bribe to a doctor, according to Vobolevičius.

“Bearing in mind that the party machine is so strong in the regions, the probability that these controversies in Vilnius, in the media, will drastically change the line-up of parties is very low. Yes, the social democrats might lose 2% or 3%, but I highly doubt that these dsiputes will knock the party from the top position.”

LRT

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