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Artūras Račas: No Christmas this year

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Santa Claus is not coming this year. This is the impression one gets listening to what has been going on in our public sphere over the last weeks, especially to utterances coming from politicians who lost the election and propagandist voices of their supporters. The central motif is the following: Doomsday is coming to Lithuania even before the end of the Mayan calendar.

This doomsday is directly related to the new ruling coalition, as the world will come to its end in Lithuania the minute it becomes clear that the Labour Party is, after all, joining the ruling coalition. The doom will come even sooner, should any of the party members are in the cabinet.

“Criminal coalition,” “the majority of crooks,” the end of democracy or the Second Republic itself, and many similar apocalyptic prophecies have become a norm in the mouths of politicians who identify themselves with the “right patriotic” wing and who will soon have to vacate their offices and bid farewell to chauffeurs who have been driving their ministerial cars for the last four years. For some, the farewells will be even more sorrowful as they will include parting with lofty paycheques.

Their pain is easy to understand and even sympathize with. Four years is a long period for one to get accustomed to life in public service offices and cars and to blissfully forget the realities of the current economy.

It is somewhat less easy to understand the President, who does not have to go back to the labour market after the October elections. She still insists on a narrow range of choice: Either you do as I tell you, or the whole affair of government formation is a “distribution of money among criminal groups of oligarch.” The choice is a tough one, you must agree.

It is somewhat less easy to understand the President, who does not have to go back to the labour market after the October elections.

Especially when someone like Mečys Laurinkus, former head of the State Security Department, warns that, should Lithuania make a wrong choice, it will allegedly get kicked out of the EU.

We have seen this before. When losing parties indulged in a similar scaremongering farce after the 1992 elections – when the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (predecessor of the current Social Democrats) won – the whole stir looked slightly ridiculous. Especially when the losers sought patronage by writing letters to British MPs, who knew only too well that an electoral defeat did not spell the end of the United Kingdom. Even non-elected Elizabeth II knows it – she, just like President Grybauskaitė, is the one tasked with inviting the leader of the winning party to form the cabinet.

But a new generation has grown up in Lithuania since 1992 – people who know not either what the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party is or why it was said at the time that they won thanks to “doctor's sausage.” Nor, for that matter, what that “doctor's sausage” is. (A type of meat product from the Soviet era.)

Today, this generation is given the opportunity to witness live history unfold before its eyes, even though it is doubtful whether one should be glad about it.

What is happening today bears striking resemblance to events of 1992, when Lithuania was taking its first steps towards democracy. But there's more to it – the hysteria and reluctance to accept the will of the voters (however stupid or unjustified it might seem) speak for the conclusion that we have not achieved that much over the last twenty years.

And this concerns more than merely the election results and the state of democracy. What is even more pitiful is the fact that some politicians have failed to realize that when they demonize their opponents and the nation which has made a “wrong” choice, they are essentially demonizing the Lithuanian state itself.

After all, everything that is happening within its borders right now – including election results, the party under legal investigation, the vice speaker of parliament who has had fraud charges brought against him – is a direct outcome of what they have done over the last two decades.

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