GeographyIQ.comGeographyIQ.com
  Home
  Rankings


A B C D E F
G H I J K L
M N O P Q R
S T U V W Y
Z          


Currency Converter

 


World > Europe > Lithuania > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Lithuania - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Lithuania is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. The president, who is elected directly for 5 years, is head of state and commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president nominates the prime minister and his cabinet and a number of other top civil servants. The Seimas, a unicameral parliament, has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in a nationwide vote by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

For the first nine years of its post-Soviet independence, voters in Lithuania shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis (now headed by Andrius Kubilius), and the Labor (former Communist) Party, led by former President Algirdas Brazauskas. This pattern was broken in the October 2000 elections, when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centrist ruling coalition with minor partners. President Valdas Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union Party (also known as the Social Liberal Party), Arturas Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas, and the leader of the Liberal Union Party, Rolandas Paksas, became Prime Minister. The new coalition was fragile from the outset, as the Liberal Union was pro-business and right of center, while the New Union had a populist and leftist orientation. The government collapsed within 7 months and, in July 2001, the center-left New Union Party forged an alliance with the left-wing Social Democratic Party and formed a new cabinet under former President Algirdas Brazauskas.

The new government tightened budgetary discipline, supported market reforms, and passed the legislation required to ensure entry into the European Union. Several years of solid economic growth helped to consolidate the government's popularity, despite discontent within two of its core constituencies--unskilled urban workers and farmers--who had expected more generous funding of social and agricultural programs. The government remained firmly in control, and by mid-2004 it was the longest serving administration since the recovery of independence.

In an unexpected political development in January 2003, Rolandas Paksas defeated the incumbent Valdas Adamkus in the second round of the presidential election to become Lithuania's third President since 1992. Paksas' tenure as president was short-lived. In December 2003, an ad hoc parliamentary commission found that President Paksas' vulnerability to influence constituted a threat to national security. On April 7, 2004, the Seimas removed President Paksas from office. Valdas Adamkus won the second round of presidential elections in June 2004 and was sworn in as president on July 12. Following parliamentary elections in October 2004, a new government led by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas took office on December 14. On April 11, 2006, Parliamentary Speaker Paulauskas was removed from his position following a vote of no-confidence. That same day, Paulauskas announced the withdrawal of his New Union party from the ruling coalition. On May 31, 2006 the government collapsed, following the withdrawal of the Labor Party. A new minority coalition government headed by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas took office on July 18, 2006 and has retained the support of the opposition Conservative party on the major issues.

The frequent formation of new political parties and their strong performance in general elections may convey the impression of great volatility, if not instability, in Lithuanian politics. However, this impression is misleading. About 20%-25% of the electorate, mostly the elderly, who have felt marginalized by the transition process, regularly vote against the party in power for its failure to ease their burdens. In the elections of 1992 and 1996, the two major parties were voted in and out, consecutively. In 2000 and 2004, newly created populist parties won the most votes. However, these parties had no clear program, were undisciplined, and splintered into small factions or aligned themselves with the Social Democratic Party. Despite its leftist ideology, by the mid-2000s the Social Democratic Party had become a centrist party and a bulwark of continuity. The frequent changes in government, however, did not lead to major shifts in policy. Economic policy, for example, has been based on fulfilling Lithuania's agreements with the International Monetary Fund and satisfying the criteria for entry into the European Union so as to ensure that Lithuania's basic taxation structure, welfare and labor policies, and government regulation were aligned with the requirements for creating a market economy. When major change has occurred, for example in the social security system, it has had the support of all the major political parties.

Principal Government Officials
President--Valdas Adamkus
Prime Minister--Gediminas Kirkilas, Social Democratic Party
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Petras Vaitiekunas, Independent (delegated by the Peasant Nationalists Party)
Minister of Defense--Juozas Olekas, Social Democratic Party
Minister of Interior--Raimondas Sukys, Liberal and Center Union
Minister of Justice--Petras Baguska, Civil Democracy
Minister of Finance--Rimantas Sadzius, Social Democratic Party
Minister of Transport and Communications--Algirdas Butkevicius, Social Democratic Party
Minister of Economy--Vytas Navickas, Peasant Nationalists Party
Minister of Agriculture--Kazimira Prunskiene, Peasant Nationalists Party
Minister of Education and Science--Roma Zakaitiene, Social Democratic Party
Minister of Health--Rimvydas Turcinskas, Social Democratic Party
Minister of Social Security and Labor--Vilija Blinkeviciute, Social Democratic Party
Minister of Culture--Jonas Jucas, Liberal and Center Union
Minister of Environment--Arunas Kundrotas, Social Democratic Party
Seimas Chairman--Viktoras Muntianas, Civil Democracy

Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States, temporarily located at 4590 MacArthur Blvd, Suite 200, Washington, DC, 20007, tel: (202) 234-5860.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Lithuanian Litas Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Lithuanian Litas Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





   Privacy & Disclaimer

   Portions of this site are based on public domain works from the U.S. Dept. of State and the CIA World Fact Book
   All original material copyright © 2002 - GeographyIQ.com. All Rights Reserved.
   For comments and feedback, write to us at [email protected].