Dabar populiaru
Published: 22 october 2012 14:24

Rimvydas Valatka: Future government without voters' trust

The Seimas elections have not even finished yet, but everyone is already left with a bad taste in their mouths. Everyone except, perhaps, Labour Party fans. Even though their triumph is still premature. These elections are unique in Lithuania, comparable perhaps only to “elections” in “people's” republics.

Some were buying votes in prisons in order to make it to the run-offs. Others were bribing people within their parties to get a higher spot on the list and make it to the Seimas via multi-mandate voting.

In yet another place, a half-witted elections observer publicly brags that she has damaged 12 ballots that were cast in favour of her lover's rival. Who needs enemies with friends like that, right? The President initially warns people against voting for some parties, and then, shortly before the election day, even tells which ones to vote for.

Witnessing all that, the leader of the Central Electoral Commission only chugs. As if he weren't the most important elections official – but rather an astronomer peeking at stars through a self-made astrolabe at nights and coming to his day-job at the commission to sleep.

The vote-buying party [the Labour Party] was condemned only by those parties that didn't make it to the Seimas and have no claim in the upcoming power distribution ball. Whereas parties that still stand a chance of sharing power – the social democrats, the conservatives, the liberals, the order-makers [Order and Justice Party], the Poles – are keeping silent. Is it necessary to declare election results null and void – as some have suggested – in order for the future Seimas to preserve its face?

Had one raised this question yesterday, it would have been enough for the parties that qualified for parliament seats to unequivocally distance themselves from the Labour Party, which is suspected in vote buying schemes, and declare they will not share power with it. Not a single party that stands a realistic chance of being in the government has done so! Anything goes, as long as it leads to power?

A further blow to legitimacy of the future government was delivered by the President, when she snubbed at the nuclear referendum results, saying – like a mistress addressing her serfs – that nay-sayers to the nuclear plant account for only one third of the populace [since the turn-out was only slightly above 50 percent], so their vote means nothing. Following such “presidential” calculus, how much support can the future Seimas majority claim?

One fourth, perhaps less. In President Grybauskaitė's calculations, no parliamentary majority and its government can dream of being worthy of us. Once again, however, all power-thirsty parties did not utter a word.

Nor did the fact that the ruling coalition – who have trebled public debt during their term in power – paid for the expensive pro-nuclear agitation with tax-payer money add to the overall legitimacy. Why should citizens who are against the nuclear plant pay for its promotion? At least two thirds of the nuclear campaign expenses should be subtracted from state grants to the parties that supported the decision. Otherwise, the abyss between the government and the electorate will only deepen and widen.

In other words, the future Seimas managed to stick its neck into the legitimacy rope even before the run-offs. Even if vote buying did not have a major impact on the election results (it is very likely that it did not), this does not change much in the public eye – many people already doubt the legitimacy of the future Seimas and Government.

So the main outcome of these Seimas elections is rather shocking – the cabinet has lost credibility even before we know its composition.

And each questionable decision of the future Government, each mistake, each non-transparent case, will only increase the ranks of the doubtful – exponentially. In other words, our parties have once again made a mess.

In general, the political trust – which has long been in critically short supply – have reached the new lows after these elections, comparable perhaps only to the shortage of clothes in the last days of the Soviet empire.

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