Social Democratic Party of Lithuania
|Social Democratic Party of Lithuania
Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija
|Headquarters||1 B. Radvilaitės g., Vilnius|
|Membership||22,000 (as of April 24, 2012)|
|International affiliation||Socialist International|
|European affiliation||Party of European Socialists|
|European Parliament group||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
|Seats in the Seimas|
|Seats in the European Parliament|
The Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija, LSDP) is a social democratic political party in Lithuania. It is the longest-existing party in Lithuania, having been founded in 1896. The party's president since 2009 is Algirdas Butkevičius. The party led a minority government in the unicameral Seimas, Lithuania's Parliament from 2004-2008. The party is a member of both the Party of European Socialists and the Socialist International.
The Social Democratic Party of Lithuania was founded on 1 May 1896. It was the first Lithuanian political party and one of the major parties who initiated the assembly called Great Seimas of Vilnius in 1905. The party was one of the major political powers during the Lithuanian independence period between 1918 and 1940. Following the election of 1926, the party formed a left-wing coalition government with Lithuanian Peasant Popular Union. This government was dismissed after 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état. The authoritarian regime of Antanas Smetona banned all political parties in 1936.
During the Soviet occupation era, no democratically constituted political parties existed within Lithuania. Therefore, between 1945 and the 1989 restoration of independence, the party was assembled and worked covertly in exile.
In 1989, the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania was restored. Kazimieras Antanavičius was elected to be party's leader. In the 1990-1992 parliament, the party had 9 seats. The party was unsuccessful in securing any sizeable representation in the Seimas during other elections in the first decade of restored Lithuanian Independence. Between 1992-1996 the party had 8 seats and in the election of 1996 it won 7 seats and also 5 seats in single-seat constituencies.
In 1999, the party's congress elected a new leader Vytenis Andriukaitis. Negotiations between the reform communist Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania began and members opposing the merger founded a new party called "Social democracy 2000" (now called "Social Democratic Union of Lithuania"). A united social democratic coalition between two parties won 51 seat in Lithuanian Parliament in the election in 2000. It remained in the opposition until 2001, at which time the government of ex-President Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas was established.
In 2001, the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania and the Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (the former Communist Party of Lithuania until 1990) merged. After this reunification, Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas, the ex-President of Lithuania and a former Lithuanian Communist leader, was elected leader of the Social Democratic Party.
At the 2004 legislative elections, the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania held 20 out of the 141 seats in the Seimas. From 4 July 2006, until the parliamentary elections of 2008 the party led a centre-left minority coalition of itself, the Labour Party and New Union (Social Liberals) with 59 members of parliament in total.
Algirdas Brazauskas resigned from his position as party chairman on 19 May 2007, when Gediminas Kirkilas was elected.
At the 2008 legislative elections the party gained 25 seats in the Seimas, five more than in the previous election of 2004, and along with it, a 11.73 percent of the national vote. However, as its coalition partners, Labour Party and New Union (Social Liberals) lost many seats, the coalition collapsed and a new centre-right coalition was formed, led by Andrius Kubilius, who became prime minister for a second time.
On 7 March 2009 party's congress elected the new leader Algirdas Butkevičius. He was the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania's (SDPL) candidate at the Lithuanian presidential election, 2009, coming in the second place with 11.83% of the votes.