Surprise candidates top Lithuania’s opposition party lists

Last week, major Lithuanian opposition parties announced their electoral lists for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Some of the results exposed internal party divisions.

The conservative Homeland Union, the biggest opposition party in the parliament, published their list on Sunday. Top two positions were reserved for Ingrida Šimonytė, a former presidential candidate, and Gabrielius Landsbergis, the party leader. Other positions have been allocated by the party-wide vote.

To the surprise of the party leadership that has been trying to establish a more liberal direction over the past years, party members expressed a preference for traditional conservative candidates.

Laurynas Kasčiūnas, a right-wing member of parliament, received the most votes, securing the third position on the Homeland Union‘s electoral list, while Paulius Saudargas, leader of the Christian Democratic wing of the party, came in fourth.

“Our community has expressed its will […]. This list is quite an accurate representation of the party where conservatives, Christian Democrats, and [former Soviet] political prisoners work together,” said Landsbergis after the vote.

Critics and opposition politicians said the results of the vote revealed the Homeland Union’s internal divisions and the lack of a uniting ideology.

“[The Homeland Union] is a formation of very different ideological fractions. When people vote for this party, they don’t really know what kind of politics they’re voting for,” Aušra Maldeikienė, a Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament, commented on Facebook.

In total, there are 241 candidates on the Homeland Union’s preference list. Šimonytė and Landsbergis can still suggest corrections to the list, the finalised version of which will be announced in mid-July.

More surprises

The Liberal Movement, which currently has 10 members in the 141-seat Lithuanian parliament, announced its electoral list on Saturday. Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the party leader, was first on the list, while her deputy Andrius Bagdonas was second.

The internal party vote determined that Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the current Seimas, took the third position on the Liberal Movement‘s preference list.

Pranckietis, previously a member of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, announced early last week about his decision to run for parliament with the Liberal Movement.

The politician said he did not expect to be so high on the party‘s list, but took it as a sign that the party’s “community welcomed him as one of them”.

Some members of the Liberal Movement, however, expressed their disappointment with the results. Long-term party member Martynas Nagevičius terminated his membership after the internal vote.

Nagevičius wrote on Facebook that he was “angry“ to see more experienced party members below Pranckietis, “who the liberals previously said had no understanding about democracy”.

He also criticised members of the Liberal Movement for not being loyal to their values and voting “pragmatically”, hoping that the speaker of Seimas will attract more support in the October elections.

The first round of parliamentary elections in Lithuania will take place on October 11.

Half of the members of Seimas will be elected in single-seat constituencies and 70 members will be chosen by proportional representation based on the preference lists submitted before the election and adjusted by the public vote.

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