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Published: 4 june 2019 11:36

The end of the “professionals” cabinet: ministers to be nominated by parties

Saulius Skvernelis, Remigijus Žemaitaitis, Gediminas Kirkilas, Ramūnas Karbauskis
Juliaus Kalinsko / 15min nuotr. / Saulius Skvernelis, Remigijus Žemaitaitis, Gediminas Kirkilas, Ramūnas Karbauskis

On May 30, the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union intends to launch negotiations on forming a ruling coalition with the Lithuanian Social Democrat Labour Party, Order and Justice party and Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union. It appears that this time the talk is not about a cabinet of professionals – ministers will be chosen by parties.

Seimas Vice Speaker Gediminas Kirkilas does not deny that later on, the coalition will also negotiate on a new European commissioner. Perhaps that being even himself.

LSDDP chairman G. Kirkilas watches with a smile the public lists of demands and requests declared by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union, Order and Justice and Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union for forming a coalition. According to him, this is only done by inexperienced negotiators.

“It is possible to come to agreement, but such talks are left to rather inexperienced negotiators. They complicate their own negotiation positions by speaking of it publicly. We have not held a joint meeting, no demand projects have been proposed. When that happens, we can talk. But negotiations are usually held with proper decorum, not through the public space. […] We have prepared [demands], but we are not making such indecorous moves,” G. Kirkilas said.

He admitted that most of the demands will be linked to social security, thus they will have their cost in the budget. Furthermore, according to the politician, Social Democrat Labour are interested in budget funding for assessors.

According to him, posts will be distributed by Seimas group size. How much and what should go Social Democrat Labour, G. Kirkilas does not mention. He says that the LSDDP can propose members to all positions: “Just in our group, we have six former minister and seven former members of cabinet. Trust me, we will definitely be able to propose candidates to any position.”

According to G. Kirkilas, the entire cabinet will not be formed completely anew, thus there should only be talks of “repairs” to it. “Do you really imagine that you can approve this cabinet, which hangs on a single minister?” he noted.

Too early to talk about European commissioners

Talks continue in Seimas that one of the positions up for grabs in the negotiations, alongside offices in the cabinet, is that of a European commissioner. When asked if he would aim for it himself, G. Kirkilas was not flustered.

“I believe that it is a premature question. Until a cabinet is formed, there will be no talks of it. First, we must form a cabinet, then talk about it,” G. Kirkilas said, while not denying that he himself could be a candidate for this office.

LVŽS coalition negotiation group member, MP Tomas Tomilinas has categorically dismissed the possibility that the position of European commissioner will be part of negotiations on the coalition agreement.

“This is a prerogative of the cabinet. The cabinet has the right of initiative, thus you should ask the cabinet. We, as the Seimas, will join in at the coordination process and that’s all. Naturally, every party will have their views. However, I certainly do not know of any names, there has been no talk of it,” he said.

Relinquishing the idea of a “professionals” cabinet

G. Kirkilas stated that in the current stage of negotiations, what is most important is to agree on tasks and minister posts. Thus, G. Kirkilas cannot imagine that agreement could be reached without incumbent Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ participation. “He is near the most important figure in this. Ramūnas Karbauskis will also definitely participate,” G. Kirkilas said.

According to the veteran MP, this time, unlike in 2016, first a political coalition of parties will be formed and only then, on its basis, a cabinet will be composed. As such, according to him, there is need for all the future partners to negotiate together and not nurture hopes of the current cabinet’s ministers remaining in their posts.

“To talk about the current ministers here… I do not know whether that’s serious,” G. Kirkilas said.

LVŽS deputy chairman, MP T. Tomilinas confirmed to 15min that this time, the cabinet will be formed differently than following the Seimas elections.

“We admit that the people, who began working as professionals, had little political experience. But our ministers obtained that experience. Thus, we invite the ministers to our party. They are welcomed. I believe that now the connection between parties and ministers will naturally grow stronger. But this does not mean that we will hold any lower criteria of professionalism or that our idea of a transparent, professional cabinet failed to prove itself. Simply put, we admit that there was a lack of experience in places. Now the experience is there. An invitation to the party is there,” the MP said.

Having become prime minister following the 2016 Seimas elections, Saulius Skvernelis put forth a condition that he himself will pick cabinet ministers and no one – not R. Karbauskis, not the LVŽS or any other party – can question those decisions.

That will no longer be the case. Ministers will be chosen by the parties forming a coalition.

“The prime minister wants to reform the cabinet. We support this. It is, however clear that other parties will also have influence on the choices,” T. Tomilinas said.

He sees no problem with their partners presenting their demands in public. According to the politician, what is most important is that later on, those demands would not start fluctuating.

The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union has already calculated that their proposals would cost 200 million euro.

The Order and Justice party has stated that it stands by the demands it raised already last year, noting to the ELTA news agency that they would desire to hold important offices in at least two ministries – the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice.

The LVŽS has stated that the reputation requirements will be presented to future ministers.

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