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Lithuania - Politics

left political groups
Lithuanian Social Democratic Party2338
Labour Party10 29
Order and Justice17 11
right political groups
Homeland Union - Christian Democrat4333
Liberal and Centre Union11
Liberals Movement1110
Other political groups
Electoral Action of Poles-8
Way of Courage -7
Christian Party7
Peasant and Greens Union-1
Non-affiliated members17 3
In March 2012 Speaker of the Seimas Irena Degutiene called for holding early general election, saying that disagreements that followed the dismissal of two top officials of the Financial Crime Investigation Service would undermine the parliament's performance. Opposition parties said they would back the motion to call early an election. Lithuania's left-wing opposition took the lead in parliamentary elections October 14, 2012. Exit polls showed the left-wing Labor Party in first place, receiving nearly 20 percent of the vote while their likely coalition partners the center-left Social Democrats were in second with 18 percent. Meanwhile the conservative Homeland Union, led by Prime Minister Andrius Kubillius, was in third place with almost 17 percent, while its coalition partner, the Liberal Movement, was fourth with over 8 percent.

The Social Democratic Party and the Labor Party apparently benefited from voter anger over austerity measures imposed by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. Both parties ran on the promised that they would ease the pain of budget cutbacks, while fulfilling their fiscal responsibility. The leftist Social Democrats and the Labor Party, plus the populist Order and Justice party agreed to form a three-party coalition, with the post of prime minister going to the Social Democrats. After a second round of voting 29 October 2012 the parties won a total of 78 seats in the 141-seat government. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius' Homeland Union came is second with 32 seats, but had little chance of forming a coalition government. Kubilius led Lithuania when the global economic crisis hit three years earlier, forcing him to institute unpopular austerity measures.

The opposition Social Democratic Party of Lithuania won 15 seats in the first round of voting, and got 22 in the second round. The party's leader Algirdas Butkevicius was elected in the first round already, which gives the party 38 seats in the parliament. The Labor Party, which secured 17 seats in the first round, led in 12 single-member constituencies. The party's candidate Virginija Baltraitiene was elected in the first round. All in all, the Labor Party was expected to have a political group of 29 MPs. The opposition Order and Justice Party won 6 seats in the first round, secured five seats in the second round, and was likely to have 11 representatives in the Lithuanian Seimas. The ruling Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats is likely to have 33 representatives in the parliament after the party won 13 seats in the first round, and another 20 candidates were elected in the run-off. The ruling Liberal Movement won seven seats in the first round, and led in three constituencies in the run-off, and will most probably have 10 seats in the parliament.

The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania won five seats in the first round. Its candidate Leonard Talmont was also elected in the first round. The party led in two constituencies, and the party was set to have 8 MPs. The Way of Courage party had already secured seven seats. It had no leading candidates in the run-off.

For the first 9 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, following alleged political funding and conflict-of-interest irregularities, including allegations that he had ties to organized crime. 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. Paksas' impeachment and removal from office came in proceedings that rocked the nation and tested the democratic institutions of the young republic, and left Lithuania the dubious distinction of being the only European democracy to have removed its head of state. The process was bumpy, but largely transparent and democratic. In the aftermath of the impeachment, Lithuania played out a highly charged contest for the presidency that pitted the centrist Adamkus against a candidate whose populist agenda promoted increased social spending, reconsideration of Lithuania's participation in Iraq, and, most notably, decreased U.S. influence in Europe. Valdas Adamkus won the second round of presidential elections in June 2004. Adamkus cast his victory in this contest as confirmation of a foreign policy agenda that highlights the importance of the U.S. presence in Lithuania and Europe. Lithuania inaugurated Valdas Adamkus on 12 July 2004 as its fourth president since the restoration of independence in 1991. Adamkus, a former American citizen, previously served as president from 1997 to 2002, when he lost his bid for reelection to populist Rolandas Paksas.

Brazauskas remained prime minister after the 2004 parliamentary elections, but the government collapsed in late May 2006 after the New Union and Labor parties withdrew from the coalition. The Labor Party Presidium recalled its five Cabinet ministers and withdrew from the ruling coalition on May 31. President Valdas Adamkus's public statement on May 30 that he had lost confidence in two Labor Party ministers precipitated the move. Labor was affronted by the President's "intolerable" remarks after it had taken what it considered the constructive gesture of suspending the political responsibilities of its erstwhile leader Viktor Uspaskich, who remains beset by ongoing investigations of alleged wrongdoings. Although the Labor party was never overtly hostile to U.S. interests, its shadowy connections to corruption and Russian interests were a constant distraction.

A new minority coalition government headed by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, a Social Democrat, took office on July 18, 2006, and retained the support of the opposition Conservative party on the major issues until September 2007. On January 28, 2008 the Social Liberal party joined the coalition, giving it a bare majority.

In the October 2008 parliamentary elections, the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrat Party, widely known as the Conservatives, won a plurality, winning almost twice as many seats (45) as the second-place Social Democrats (25). The National Revival Party, a new party with numerous show business and TV-journalism celebrities in its top ranks, finished third (16 seats).

The Conservatives put together a four-party coalition with the National Revival, Liberal Movement, and Liberal and Center Union parties, and Conservative leader Andrius Kubilius became prime minister--a post he previously held in 1999-2000. National Revival founder and leader Arturas Valinskas became Seimas Speaker. Following accusations of corruption and the splitting of the National Revival party, in September 2009 the Seimas removed Valinskas from that position, and First Deputy Speaker Irena Degutiene of the Conservative Party became speaker. Although the government lost its majority in March 2010, when one parliamentarian left the coalition to join an opposition party, a small non-coalition party agreed to support the government on important votes. Currently, the ruling coalition has a majority of 71 seats, and the opposition holds 69 seats. The National Revival party merged with the Liberal and Center Union party and lost its name.

In May 2009, Dalia Grybauskaite, an Independent, overwhelmingly won Lithuania’s presidential election, receiving 68% of the vote. She previously served as the EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget and is a former Lithuanian Finance Minister. Grybauskaite, who said her top priorities would be domestic issues, especially those relating to the Lithuanian economy, was inaugurated July 12, 2009 in Vilnius. Since becoming President, Grybauskaite has focused on action to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis; to recalibrate Lithuania’s foreign policy to achieve balance in terms of relations with countries in the East, the EU, and the U.S.; and to assert stronger governmental oversight of the State Security Department.

Lithuania held a presidential runoff vote May 25, 2014 with incumbent "Iron Lady" Dalia Grybauskaite the front-runne. President Grybauskaite dominated the first round of voting two weeks earlier in the country's sixth presidential ballot, but failed to secure the majority needed to win outright. Lithuania's election commission said Grybauskaite, a former EU budget commissioner, had about 45 percent of the vote. Her rival was Zigmantas Balcytis of the center-left social democrats.

Grybauskaite won the first consecutive presidential term in the country's history, with her anti-Russian platform striking a chord with voters. Grybauskaite won 57.9 percent of the votes in the nation of 3 million. Zigmantas Balcytis, a social democrat supported by prime minister Algirdas Butkevicius, scored 40.1 percent. Grybauskaite was sworn in for second term as the President of Lithuania 12 July 2014.

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