Politics of Lithuania

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Coat of arms of Lithuania
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Lithuania

Politics of Lithuania takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Lithuania is the head of government, and of a multi-party system.

Executive power is exercised by the government, which is headed by the Prime Minister. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the unicameral Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament). Judicial power is vested in judges appointed by the President of Lithuania and is independent of executive and legislature power. The judiciary consists of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal as well as the separate administrative courts. The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania established these powers upon its approval on October 25, 1992. Being a multi-party system, the government of Lithuania is not dominated by any single political party, rather it consists of numerous parties that must work with each other to form coalition governments.

History[edit]

Since Lithuania declared independence on March 11, 1990, it has kept strong democratic traditions. Drawing from the interwar experiences, politicians made many different proposals that ranged from strong parliamentarism to a presidential republic with checks and balances similar to the United States. Through compromise, a semi-presidential system was settled.[1] In a referendum on October 25, 1992, the first general vote of the people since their declared independence, 56.75% of the total number of voters supported the new constitution.[2]

All major political parties declared their support for Lithuania's membership in NATO and the European Union (EU). Lithuania joined NATO on March 29, 2004, and joined the EU on May 1, 2004.

Since 1991, Lithuanian voters have shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis, and the (formerly Communist) Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania, led by president Algirdas Brazauskas. During this period, the prime minister was Gediminas Vagnorius.

Valdas Adamkus has been the president for most of the time since 1998. His prime minister was Rolandas Paksas, whose government got off to a rocky start and collapsed within seven months. The alternation between left and right 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 Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. Artūras Paulauskas, the leader of the center-left New Union (also known as the Social Liberal party), became the Chairman of the Seimas. In July 2001, the center-left New Union party forged an alliance with the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania and formed a new cabinet under former president Algirdas Brazauskas. On April 11, 2006, Artūras Paulauskas was removed from his position and Viktoras Muntianas was elected Chairman of the Seimas.[3]

The cabinet of Algirdas Brazauskas resigned on May 31, 2006, as President Valdas Adamkus expressed no confidence in two of the Ministers, formerly party colleagues of Brazauskas, over ethical principles. Brazauskas decided not to remain in office as acting Prime Minister, and announced that he was finally retiring from politics. Even so, he led the ruling Social Democratic Party of Lithuania for one more year, until May 19, 2007, when he passed the reins to Gediminas Kirkilas. On November 27, 2008, Andrius Kubilius was appointed as a new Prime Minister.

Government[edit]

Government in Lithuania is made up of three branches originally envisioned by enlightenment philosopher Baron de Montesquieu: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch is separate and is set up to do checks and balances on each other branch.

Executive branch[edit]

The executive branch of the Lithuanian government consists of a President, a Prime Minister, and the President's Council of Ministers. It is in charge of running the government.

President[edit]

The President of Lithuania is the head of state of the country, elected directly for a five-year term and can serve maximum of two terms consecutively. The President, with the approval of the Seimas, is first responsible of appointing the Prime Minister. Upon the Prime Minister's nomination, the President also appoints, under the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers (13 ministries), as well as a number of other top civil servants and the judges for all courts. The President also serves as the commander-in-chief, oversees foreign and security policy, addresses political problems of foreign and domestic affairs, proclaims state of emergency, considers the laws adopted by the Seimas, and performs other duties specified in the Constitution.[4]

President Valdas Adamkus has been the head-of-state since July 12, 2004, who followed interim President Artūras Paulauskas after former President Rolandas Paksas was impeached in April 2004 for leaking classified information. Adamkus had previously served a term as Lithuanian President from 1998 to 2003, but lost to Paksas who also ran for President.

Prime Minister[edit]

The Prime Minister of Lithuania is the head of government of the country, appointed by the President and approved by the Seimas. The Prime Minister, within 15 days of being appointed, is responsible for choosing Ministers for the President to approve to each of the 13 Ministries. In general, the Prime Minister is in charge of the affairs of the country, maintains homeland security, carries out laws and resolutions of the Seimas and decrees of the President, maintains diplomatic relations with foreign countries and international organizations, and performs other duties specified in the Constitution.[4]

Council of Ministers[edit]

Similar to the cabinet of other nations, the Council of Ministers consists of 13 Ministers chosen by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President. Each Minister is responsible for his or her own Ministry of the Lithuanian government and must give reports on his or her Ministry when directed to.[5] The different Lithuanian Ministries are listed below. When the Prime Minister resigns or dies, the position is to be filled as soon as possible and the new leader will appoint a new Government.

Current office holders[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Dalia Grybauskaitė Independent 12 July 2009
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius Social Democratic Party 13 December 2012

Legislative branch[edit]

Seimas

The parliament (Seimas) has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single-member districts (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote using proportional representation by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Political parties and elections[edit]

e • d Summary of the 17 May 2009 Lithuanian presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes  %
Dalia Grybauskaitė Independent 950,407 69.1
Algirdas Butkevičius Social Democratic Party of Lithuania 162,665 11.8
Valentinas Mazuronis Order and Justice 84,656 6.2
Valdemar Tomaševski Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania 65,255 4.7
Kazimira Prunskienė Lithuanian Peasant Popular Union 53,778 3.9
Loreta Graužinienė Labour Party 49,686 3.6
Česlovas Jezerskas Independent 9,191 0.7
Invalid votes 17,640
Total 1,393,278 100
Registered voters/turnout 2,691,603 51.8
Source: VRK

Summary of the 12 October and 26 October 2008 Lithuanian Seimas election results[6]

Party Votes
(proportional)
% Seats
proportional constituency total
Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats 243,823 19.72 18 27 45
National Resurrection Party 186,629 15.09 13 3 16
Order and Justice 156,777 12.68 11 4 15
Social Democratic Party of Lithuania 144,890 11.72 10 15 25
Coalition Labour Party + Youth 111,149 8.99 8 2 10
Liberal Movement 70,862 5.73 5 6 11
Liberal and Centre Union 66,078 5.34 5 3 8
Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania 59,237 4.79 3 3
Lithuanian Peasant Popular Union 46,162 3.73 3 3
New Union (Social Liberals) 45,061 3.64 1 1
Front 40,016 3.24
Young Lithuania (Jaunoji Lietuva) 21,589 1.75
Civic Democratic Party 13,775 1.11
Union of the Russians of Lithuania 11,357 0.92
Lithuanian Social Democratic Union (Lietuvos socialdemokratų sąjunga) 10,642 0.86
Lithuanian Centre Party (Lietuvos centro partija) 8,669 0.70
Independents 4 4
Invalid/blank votes 73,239
Total 1,233,875 100.00 70 71 141
Registered voters/turnout 2,696,090 48.59
e • d Summary of the results of Lithuania's 7 June 2009 election to the European Parliament
← 200420092014 →
Party European party Main candidate Votes  % +/– Seats +/–
Homeland Union – Christian Democrats (TS–LKD) EPP Vytautas Landsbergis 147,756 26.16 4 2 Increase
Social Democratic Party (LSDP) PES Vilija Blinkevičiūtė 102,347 18.12 3 1 Increase
Order and Justice (TT) None Rolandas Paksas 67,237 11.90 2 1 Increase
Labour Party (DP) ELDR Viktor Uspaskich 48,368 8.56 1 4 Decrease
Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (AWPL) AECR Valdemar Tomaševski 46,293 8.20 1 1 Increase
Liberal Movement (LS) Leonidas Donskis 40,502 7.17 1 1 Increase
Liberal and Centre Union (LiCS) ELDR Artūras Zuokas 19,105 3.38 0 2 Decrease
Centre Party (LCP) None Ona Juknevičienė 17,004 3.01 0 0 Steady
Christian Conservative Social Union (KKSS) Gediminas Vagnorius 16,108 2.85 0 0 Steady
Front Party (FRONTAS) None Algirdas Paleckis 13,341 2.36 0 0 Steady
Peasant Popular Union (VNDS) AEN Gintaras Didžiokas 10,285 1.82 0 1 Decrease
Civic Democratic Party (PDP) None Eugenijus Maldeikis 7,425 1.31 0 0 Steady
Samogitian Party (ZP) None Egidijus Skarbalius 6,961 1.23 0 0 Steady
National Resurrection Party (TPP) None Saulius Stoma 5,717 1.01 0 0 Steady
National Party Lithuanian Way 1,568 0.28 0 0 Steady
Valid votes 550.017 97.38
Blank and invalid votes 14.786 2.62
Totals 564.803 100.00 12 1 Decrease
Electorate (eligible voters) and voter turnout 2,692,397 20.98 27.40 Decrease
Source: Lithuanian Central Electoral Commission

Judicial branch[edit]

The judges of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucinis Teismas) for a single nine-year term are appointed by the Seimas from the candidates presented by the President (three judges), Chairman of Seimas (three judges) and the chairman of the Supreme Court (three judges).

Administrative divisions[edit]

Since 1994, with modifications in 2000, Lithuania is subdivided into 10 counties (Lithuanian: plural - apskritys, singular - apskritis), each named after their principal city (see: Counties of Lithuania). Counties are then subdivided into 60 municipalities (Lithuanian: plural - savivaldybės, singular - savivaldybė). Municipalities are further subdivided into over 500 elderships (Lithuanian: plural - seniūnijos, singular - seniūnija).

Counties are ruled by apskrities viršininkas (officially translated as "governor") who is appointed by the central government in Vilnius. Their primary duty is to ensure that the municipalities obey the laws and constitution of Lithuania. They do not have great powers vested in them. Municipality governments are elected in democratic elections of municipality councils held every 4 years. Municipality mayors are elected by the municipality councils. Also, municipality councils appoint elders to be in charge of an eldership.

International organization participation[edit]

Organization Acronym Date joined Notes
Bank for International Settlements BIS
Council of the Baltic Sea States CBSS March 5, 1992
Council of Europe COE May 14, 1993
European Community EC
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council EAPC
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development EBRD January 30, 1992
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe ECE
European Union EU May 1, 2004
Food and Agriculture Organization FAO November 9, 1991
International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA November 18, 1993
World Bank IBRD July 6, 1992
International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO September 27, 1991
International Chamber of Commerce ICC
International Criminal Court ICC
International Trade Union Confederation ITUC
International Finance Corporation IFC March 21, 1992
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement IFRCS November 17, 1991
International Labour Organization ILO October 4, 1991
International Monetary Fund IMF March 29, 1992
International Maritime Organization IMO December 7, 1995
International Telecommunications Satellite Organization Intelsat (nonsignatory user)
International Criminal Police Organization - Interpol Interpol November 4, 1991
International Olympic Committee IOC
International Organization for Migration IOM November 28, 1995
International Organization for Standardization ISO January 1, 1992 (correspondent)
International Telecommunication Union ITU October 12, 1991
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO April 1, 2004
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons OPCW May 15, 1998
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe OSCE September 10, 1991
United Nations UN September 17, 1991
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO October 15, 1991
United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF February 6, 1993
United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina UNMIBH
United Nations Mission in Kosovo UNMIK
Universal Postal Union UPU January 10, 1992
World Customs Organization WCO June 18, 1992
Western European Union WEU (associate partner)
World Health Organization WHO November 25, 1991
World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO March 30, 1992
World Meteorological Organization WMO July 3, 1922
World Trade Organization WTO May 31, 2001

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lina Kulikauskienė, Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucija (Constitution of Lithuania), Native History, CD, 2002. ISBN 9986-9216-7-8
  2. ^ Nuo 1991 m. iki šiol paskelbtų referendumų rezultatai (Results from Refrenda 1991-Present), Microsoft Word Document, Seimas. Accessed June 4, 2006.
  3. ^ "Government of Lithuania". Vil S. Vaitas, P.E. and Associates International Consultants. Fairfax, VA.
  4. ^ a b Lithuanian Home Page
  5. ^ Lithuania in the European Union - Coordination of European Union Affairs in Lithuania
  6. ^ Lithuanian Election Committee (first round, second round)

External links[edit]