Conservative Government in Lithuania
1) Homeland Union ÔÇô Lithuanian Christian Democrats: 45 mandates
Besides the above-mentioned seats the following individual mandates were obtained: Lithuanian Peasant Popular Union (3), Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (3), New Union (1) and Independents (4).
Before the elections one of the major questions of the Lithuanian political life was whether the two big parties which enjoy great support in society (i.e. the Labour Party as well as the Order and Justice) could win the elections by profiting from the negative public sentiment felt against the parties of the political transition, or whether they will force the Left and the Right to form a coalition against them. First in 2004, then the present elections carried again the danger that the electorate, being fed up with the fatigue of the Conservative and Social Democratic Parties which had led the political transition, as well as with the enormous corruption, will rather favour those parties which voice populist slogans. Something similar happened in 2004 when the Social Democrats were forced to enter into coalition with the Labour Party advocating social demagoguery. With the emergence some months ago of the National Resurrection which clearly rejects populist policy and which has positioned itself in the centre-right this polemics seemed to get resolved. During the election campaign the party was being successfully led by Arunas Valinkas who had distinguished himself previously by conducting television shows, and finally it obtained the third place.
Following a seven-year rule by the Left, the Conservatives could thus form a coalition. The coalition led by Andrius Kubilius who had been prime minister once before, between November 1999 and October 2000, enjoys a support by 80 MPs in the parliament, and beside the Homeland Union ÔÇô Lithuanian Christian Democrats it includes the National Resurrection Party, the Liberals' Movement as well as the Liberal and Centre Union.
The European Conservative parties count on the leading party of the government as well. Next to Kubilius, the other well-known prominent personality is the former President, Vytautas Landsbergis (present member of the European Parliament). The Head of the Government himself is considered to be an outstanding leader, a strong political figure. The politician born in 1956 has great leadership skills and due to his qualification as a physicist he displays a structured approach to problem-solving. He has a special affinity for energy policy matters, therefore he is expected to actively deal with the establishment of energy security which is a crucial issue for the Lithuanian economy. He took over the leadership of Homeland Union from Landsbergis in 2003, and since 2008 he has been at the head of the party alliance as well.
The distribution of portfolios, in accordance with the proportions of the mandates, reflects the will of Kubilius: the Homeland Union ÔÇô Christian Democrats provide the backbone of the Government. Having seven portfolios, the leading ruling party governs the fields of financial affairs, external relations, defence, economy, social and labour affairs, agriculture and energy. The National Resurrection Party is in charge of culture and the environment, the Liberal and Centre Union supervises the interior affairs and health care, while the Liberals' Movement is in control of justice, education and sciences, communication and transport.
Among the major issues of governance energy security will necessarily receive extra attention. The dependence on Russia of Lithuania with a population of 3,4 million will hardly decrease especially due to an agreement concluded with the EU according to which before 2009 Vilnius will have to close its Chernobyl-type nuclear power plant at Ignalina, built in the Soviet times. This will not be easy since the Homeland Union is far from being a friend of Russia. Lithuanian analysts expect the Homeland Union to conduct a harsher, but at the same time more predictable and less emotional policy vis-├á-vis Russia in contrast to the Social Democrats of the former Government. Nevertheless the new Government will need to continue to cooperate with Russia, since Moscow provides 100% of Lithuania's gas import. In spite of that Lithuania was opposing the renewal of the EU-Russia negotiations up to the last minute. The Lithuanians were hoping that until 2009 the electric bridge binding Scandinavia to Poland will have been created. However, experts talk of delays, and the probable date of delivery has been postponed to 2016.
In foreign policy Lithuania's commitments arising from its EU and NATO membership will certainly remain the decisive factors. Lithuania will continue to go to considerable length to make an impact on the EU's policy towards the East, first of all, on its relations with Russia. It is the President who has the biggest say in the formulation of foreign policy by defining the strategic guidelines. In his rhetoric Adamkus many times takes too hard positions vis-├á-vis Russia, and this will probably remain the case until June next year when the following presidential elections take place in Lithuania.
As for the domestic issues, the greatest challenge will undoubtedly be the reforms of the state care systems and the education which have serious economic implications and which the previous governments failed to carry out during the years of economic boom. Lithuania will not be able to avoid the transformation of these systems, no matter how unpopular measures the reforms will entail.