Lithuanian Parliamentarian elections, a ‘bad guy’ lost
With the general elections rolling across Europe many did not notice that simultaneously an important elections took place in Lithuania. A new parliamentarian was elected to replace a Conservative Vrubliauskas who turned in his MP’s mandate in spring to become the mayor of the Alytus district.
However, the elections were not only about a single place in a parliament. It was about the voice of a corrupt populism with a strong tail lead to Russia, against a voice of a civic society in face of a Human Rights lawyer.
Those who follow the Baltic politics have inevitably heard a name of Mr Viktor Uspaskich. The former minister and ex-leader of the Labour Party, a multi-millionaire Viktor Uspaskich, lost to the lawyer Kęstutis Čilinskas proposed by the Conservative party. The charismatic maverick multi-millionaire received 42.73% against 55.33% for Čilinskas.
Uspaskich, who is suspect in the case of fraudulent bookkeeping of his Labour Party and declaration of erroneous data of the party’s income and application thereof to the State Tax Authority and the Central Electoral Committee, had been hiding in Russia for about eighteen months. Since his return few weeks ago Uspaskich was placed under home arrest in his adopted home town of Kėdainiai, where he build his empire, before entering the Lithuanian politics.
The Conservative candidate is also known for representing Mrs Budrevičienė in a court suing one of the Mr Uspaskich factory’s management after she was fired once she went public to disclose illegal payments to the workers.
However, analysing the results from the Alytus county one should be very careful about generalizations on the national scale. The Alytus County is a conservative party stronghold, this is part of Lithuanian where the serfdom was abolished earliest in Lithuania, and the national rebirth movement was a very strog at the beginning of the 20 Century. At the beginning of the Soviet occupation the Anti-Soviet Partisan movement was still actively operating in the region well after Stalin’s death.
One should also keep in mind that Uspaskich had disadvantages since he is under the home arrest and was not able physically travel to agitate to the Alytus region. Still, almost 43% for Uspaskich is a very good result for the candidate considering the factors mentioned above.
On the other hand this is a huge blow to a over confident Uspaskich who was certain over his victory since a prospect of being elected and receiving an immunity after, was one of the most important reason for his return to Lithuania.
Prof Lansbergis, most prominent Lithuanian politician, who few days ago celebrated his 75th noted to the BNS that “Definitely, it is very pleasant because the person was elected, because bad person didn’t win and, finally, because the elections were not won by money”.
However, in his words, the victory of Čilinskas is pleasant but does not indicate any significant changes on Lithuania’s political arena – the changes should emerge after the nearest general elections to the Seimas next Autumn 2008.