Lithuania is getting prepared for the parliamentary election to be held this autumn.
Who will win the next parliamentary election in Lithuania? How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the ratings of Lithuanian politicians? How do Vilnius and Warsaw protect historical memory from Moscow’s attempts to rewrite history? Head of the Political Science Department at Vytautas the Great University in Kaunas Andžej Pukšto answered these questions for Charter97.org.
- Lithuania is preparing for the country's parliamentary election, which will be held in early autumn. Which parties are leading at the moment?
- Opinion polls indicate that Conservatives are leading. Last autumn and this winter, until quarantine began because of the coronavirus pandemic, all polls indicated that the ruling party, the Union of Peasants and Greens, was declining in popularity. The party’s actions during quarantine clearly suspended the decline in the rating of both political power and its leaders. For example, the popularity of Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Minister of Health Aurelijus Veryga has increased significantly and is going up.
It is too early to predict who will win the parliamentary election, I will venture to suggest that after the election the parties will form a coalition in the Sejm. On the other hand, the results of the “Union of Peasants and Greens” directly depend on how well the government was able to prepare and implement measures to help residents of the country affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
- You noted that the ratings of Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Minister of Health Aurelijus Veryga are going up, but how has quarantine affected the rating of the president?
- It is no secret that even before the start of the quarantine, critics accused the president of passivity. During quarantine, nothing changed either, there was no particular activity on the part of the head of state in the public space. The situation has begun to change, recently we have been witnessing a growing activity of the head of Lithuania. Nevertheless, it must be understood that the government is fighting the coronavirus pandemic, it is the government, not the president, that has all the legal tools in its hands. Again, it is quite obvious that the inhabitants of the country would like to see that the president has a more significant role in the life of the country.
- A few days ago in Vilnius, Polish and Lithuanian politicians paid tribute to the hero of World War II Witold Pilecki. Could you tell us about the political significance of this event?
- Both Lithuania and Poland at one time clashed and suffered as a result of the actions of two totalitarian regimes - the USSR and the Third Reich. The initiative to honor the memory of Witold Pilecki is aimed not only at the inside of the two countries, but the whole world, including the countries of the European Union. I remind you that the European Parliament decided to consider May 25 as the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarianism. Recently, Vilnius and Warsaw have been making every effort to emphasize that for both countries - both the Soviet and fascist totalitarian regimes have brought untold suffering. The personality of Witold Pilecki, who voluntarily ended up in the Auschwitz death camp, survived, fled, and after the end of the war was killed by the Communists, unites Lithuania and Poland. Pilecki is evidence that the Poles and Lithuanians can, despite many disagreements, agree, find a compromise, and together resist the Kremlin’s attempts to rewrite history.