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With little time left to the municipal and direct mayoral elections, political party leaders are pondering, which city and region bastions they will hold on to and where they have chances to break through. The Social Democrats, Liberal Movement and Order and Justice Party remain modest both about increases in their mayors and council members, while the Conservatives and “Farmers”, who remain the most popular parties, believe that they could reach historical victories in the elections, lrt.lt writes.
In an interview with lrt.lt, Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), which holds 11 mayor seats right now, chairman Gintautas Paluckas stated that during the municipal elections, the party will seek to maintain current positions. “The context has greatly changed since 2015 – various committees, other political powers have emerged, thus we would like to retain the same number of mayors and have representatives in all 60 municipalities,” G. Paluckas noted.
Social Democrat representatives are the heads of 11 municipalities: Kelmė, Birštonas, Zarasai, Neringa, Marijampolė, Kaunas region, Akmenė, Vilkaviškis, Jonava, Mažeikiai and Prienai. As for specific numbers of seats, how many municipal council member seats the LSDP would like to take during the elections, the party’s leader was unwilling to say, adding that when forming coalitions after the municipal elections, the party will not have any specific political preferences. “We are not making deals ahead of time and are certainly not pre-forming any coalitions because elections are elections, people will weigh us all and afterward, we will be able to talk based on the mandates we receive. We are spreading the message that coalitions will be formed based on planned works and programmes and not in regard to distributing posts,” G. Paluckas stressed.
Liberals aim to not overextend
Liberal Movement head Eugenijus Gentvilas explained to lrt.lt that his party seeks to retain currently held posts through the municipal elections. “At the moment we hold 220 mandates across the municipalities, thus our goal in the elections is around 170 mandates. We want to have 8 mayors. I have no doubt that we will have that many and it certainly could be 10 as well. Regardless of R. Šimašius and V. Grubliauskas withdrawing [from the party], there are branches where we have great potential – Anykščiai, Zarasai, Jurbarkas, Klaipėda region. These are our branches where our candidate will reach the second round, thus we will definitely win 8 mayor seats and perhaps even more,” E. Gentvilas said. The mayors of Joniškis region, Rietavas, Kėdainiai, Plungė region, Tauragė region, Trakai region and Elektrėnai municipalities are Liberal Movement members. The Liberals’ leader assured that in terms of potential parties, he would include Algis Kašėta, who is running to become the mayor of Varėna with an electoral committee and intends to restore his party membership among Liberal Movement mayors. Summarising the party’s plans for the municipal elections, E. Gentvilas noted that he believes that the Liberal Movement will remain fourth regardless of the shadow from the MG Baltic political corruption case and the party’s appearances in State Security Department reports. “You ask where’s the ambition when the number of mayors is decreasing? But understand, after such kicking, spitting and sometimes telling of massive untruths, unfortunately one cannot avoid losses, but today we are the fourth party based on the number of candidates behind the Social Democrats, Conservatives and “Farmers”, thus I believe that we will also be the fourth party based on the number of mandates and mayors,” the Liberal leader spoke.
R. Karbauskis: we will obtain the support of the cities
Currently Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) mayors lead the municipalities of Ignalina region, Kazlų Rūda, Panevėžys region and Šiauliai region. In an interview with lrt.lt LVŽS leader R. Karbauskis stated he believes that the party will expand the ranks of its mayors during the municipal elections, albeit not specifying municipalities where he expects victories. R. Karbauskis repeated that the “Farmers” intend to double the number of the party’s representatives in the municipalities – approximately from 160 to 300 mandates. “If we receive more mandates, you along with all the political scientists will be left surprised, how the “Farmers” appeared in the elections successfully. Many political scientists will say that it was the uneducated that voted for the “Farmers”. But this time you will see how the cities are voting for the “Farmers”. It will be a paradox, which will oppose all the currently standing ideas how the “Farmers” do not have support in the cities. We will obtain support in the cities and will even win in some. We can win many municipalities where we do not even have council members,” R. Karbauskis explained. The LVŽS leader did not conceal that he hopes that the “Farmers'” candidates will for the first time enter the capital’s municipal council. “I hope that we will win in Klaipėda and Marijampolė. I believe that there should be fairly good results in Šiauliai, Panevėžys. […] I would not be surprised if we were to enter the municipal council in Vilnius,” R. Karbauskis mused.
Conservatives intend to leave the LSDP in the dust
Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) chairman Gabrielius Landsbergis was unwilling to predict whether the number of mayors affiliated with the party would rise. That said, the politician stated he believes that the TS-LKD’s candidates to mayor should reach the second round of voting in the country’s three largest cities – Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda. “Say, in Vilnius we have many protest votes that Viktor Uspaskich and Artūras Zuokas are targeting. There is the likelihood that the votes will split and it could happen that neither will reach the second round. This would be our chance. In Kaunas there is also the possibility of a second round because most likely there will not be any other candidates, the system is emptied and all that remains would be candidates of Vieningas Kaunas and the Conservatives. Klaipėda holds the major intrigue because of the unpredictable results. The electoral struggle was so far interesting and I believe that the intrigue will remain up to the end of voting. We believe that we have real chances of reaching the second round,” G. Landsbergis mused. TS-LKD representatives hold mayor offices in 11 municipalities: Molėtai, Pasvalys, Kaišiadorys, Kretinga, Kupiškis, Palanga, Radviliškis, Skuodas, Šakiai, Šilalė and Alytus region. According to G. Landsbergis, the TS-LKD will focus most during the elections on increasing its number of mandates in municipal councils. “In 2015, we were the second party based on council member count. The Social Democrats were first, having won all the elections since 1997. Hence, our ambition is to surpass the Social Democrats and become first,” the head of TS-LKD stated.
Want a debut
Having withdrawn from the LSDP together with a group of other former members and having founded the Lithuanian Social Democratic Labour Party (LSDDP) in 2018, Gediminas Kirkilas told lrt.lt that these municipal elections will be the first for his political power, thus it is not worth forecasting. “We will be running in the elections for the first time, it will be our debut, thus however many mayor posts and seats in municipalities we will win, that will be our victory. The elections will show, there isn’t much time to wait,” G. Kirkilas spoke laconically. LSDDP representatives are currently heading the municipalities of Klaipėda and Širvintai regions. That said, Živilė Pinskuvienė, running for the office of Širvintai mayor, has suspended her membership in the LSDDP, however G. Kirkilas stated that after the elections the politician should restore her membership.
Order and Justice sees opportunities in other municipalities
In an interview with lrt.lt, Order and Justice Party chairman Remigijus Žemaitaitis noted that he raises no particular requirements for his party. According to him, it is important for Order and Justice representative mayors to be re-elected in the Kalvarijos and Šilutė municipalities. According to R. Žemaitaitis, it is especially important for him that voters would consider his party’s renewal. “Whether people will express trust in the new party, the new wind – that will be our main goal,” R. Žemaitaitis said. In terms of number of mandates in municipalities, the Order and Justice leader noted that the party hopes 80 of its representatives could be elected, thus around the number it has currently. That said, R. Žemaitaitis did not conceal that he believes this number could grow. “I hope that the council members, who we have now, will not fail the people and that the council members will be re-elected. In some municipalities I believe that we could obtain even more mandates because we have new people, for example in Raseiniai, Rokiškis, Tauragė, Klaipėda, Kretinga, Panevėžys, Pasvalys, Marijampolė and Pagėgiai,” the Order and Justice party leader said.
Wants to repeat previous election results
When asked in Seimas on Thursday, what results he expects in the municipal elections, the chairman of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union (LLRA-KŠS) Valdemar Tomaševski answered that he wishes for the party to repeat the results of the 2015 municipal elections, which is gaining 65 mandates. “The results were impressive. Vilnius district is the largest in Lithuania with a population of around 900 thousand, a third of Lithuania. It also contains half of Lithuania’s economy. We have taken first place in this region as a political power. We hope to repeat it,” V. Tomaševski spoke. He also reminded that during the previous direct mayoral elections, the LLRA-KŠS won mayor posts in the first round in Šalčininkai and Vilnius region. V. Tomaševski hopes that in the March 3 elections, his party will grasp victory in another three municipalities: Trakai, Švenčionys and Vilnius city. “We hope to reach the second round and win the elections in the capital. We feel significant voter support and not just from our traditional voters – ethnic minorities, but also from Lithuanians,” the LLRA-KŠS chairman said.