Lithuanian parliamentary election, 2004
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Parliamentary elections were held in Lithuania on 10 October 2004, with a second round on 24 October 2004 in the constituencies where no candidate won a majority in the first round of voting. All 141 seats in the Seimas were up for election; 71 in single-seat constituencies elected by majority vote and the remaining 70 in a nationwide constituency based on proportional representation.
The elections were won by the Labour Party with around 28% of the vote in the nationwide constituency and 39 seats in the Eighth Seimas, far short of the 71-seat majority. Outgoing government coalition "Working for Lithuania", consisting of the ruling Social Democratic Party of Lithuania and New Union (Social Liberals), won a total of 31 seats.
Despite finishing behind Labour, the Social Democrats led a coalition government with New Union, Labour and the Peasants and New Democratic Party Union. Algirdas Brazauskas continued as the Prime Minister of Lithuania.
The 2000 parliamentary elections were held on 8 October 2000. Liberal Union of Lithuania ended up as the largest single party in the parliament, with 34 seats in the 141-member Eighth Seimas, followed by New Union (Social Liberals) with 29. The two parties formed a coalition, with Rolandas Paksas of the Liberal Union as the Prime Minister and Artūras Paulauskas of the New Union as the Speaker of the Seimas.
The coalition was not long-lived, however, and at the end of 2001 New Union joined the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania in a coalition headed by Algirdas Brazauskas. Social-Democratic Coalition of Algirdas Brazauskas, consisting of Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania, Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, Union of the Russians of Lithuania and New Democracy Party, had won a total of 51 seats in the elections. Democratic Labour Party and Social Democrats, which had together won 45 of those seats, merged in 2001 under the name of the latter.
Paksas, who had by then left the Liberal Union, was elected the President of Lithuania in 2003. In April 2004 he was impeached by the Seimas and removed from office, with Paulauskas serving as the acting president until elections later that year.
All seats in the 141-member Seimas were up for election in parallel voting, with 71 members elected in single-seat constituencies and 70 members elected by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. Voting in the elections was open to all citizens of Lithuania who are at least 18-years-old.
The first round took place on 10 October 2004. 70 seats were allocated to the participating political parties using the largest remainder method, with a 5% threshold (7% for multi-party lists) to enter the parliament. Candidates took the seats allocated to their parties based on the preference lists submitted before the elections and adjusted by preference votes given by the voters.
To be eligible for election, candidates had to be at least 25-years-old on the election day, not under allegiance to a foreign state and permanently resident in Lithuania. Persons serving or due to serve a sentence imposed by the court 65 days before the elections were not eligible. Also, judges, citizens performing military service, and servicemen of professional military service and officials of statutory institutions and establishments could not stand for election.
In May 2004, the Constitutional Court of Lithuania decided that a person removed from office through impeachement for breaching the oath of office can not stand in parliamentary or presidential elections, or serve on the government, disqualifying Paksas from the elections.
Labour Party was founded in October 2003, a year before the elections, by a Russian-born businessman and member of the Seimas Viktor Uspaskich and won the elections to the European Parliament earlier in 2004. The populist party campaigned on the promise of increasing living standards and fighting corruption. Many of its promises, such as lowering prices by 10 to 20%, increasing the minimum salary and pensions, tax holidays for newly established companies, all within less than three years, were criticized by economists as unfeasible. Nevertheless, the party garnered strong support in rural areas and small towns.
"Working for Lithuania" was the coalition of the Social Democrats (led by Prime Minister, Algirdas Brazauskas) and the New Union (led by the Speaker of the Seimas, Artūras Paulauskas) parties, which had led the government since 2001. The coalition campaigned on their record in the government and promised further economic growth, lower unemployment and increases in salaries and pensions.
Conservative Homeland Union, led by Andrius Kubilius, once again campaigned pointed to dangers posed to Lithuania by Russia. The party allied itself with the Liberal and Centre Union, led by Artūras Zuokas but headed in the elections by Petras Auštrevičius. Several members of the party, including Zuokas, had been under investigation for corruption and financial fraud.
Finally, the Liberal Democratic Party of Rolandas Paksas led a coalition "For the Order and Justice". Since Paksas was barred from participating in the elections, its electoral list was headed by Valentinas Mazuronis. Paksas had expressed hopes that the electoral list would win 50 seats in the Seimas.
Altogether, around 600 candidates competed in the single-seat constituencies, while over 1,100 candidates were included in the electoral lists for the nationwide constituency.
The elections were won by the Labour Party, which claimed 39 of the 141 seats in the Seimas. Nevertheless, newspaper Rzeczpospolita indicated that the result was a disappointment for the party, which had expected a better result in the second round of voting in single-seat constituencies.
Coalition "Working for Lithuania" finished second in elections, with Social Democrats and New Union winning 20 and 11 seats, respectively. Homeland Union won 25 seats, more than double their tally in the previous elections.
|Party or alliance||Proportional||Constituency||Total
|Working for Lithuania||Social Democratic Party of Lithuania||246,852||20.7||16||17.6||15||20|
|New Union (Social Liberals)||11|
|Homeland Union (Lithuanian Conservatives)||176,409||14.8||11||14.4||14||25|
|For the Order and Justice||Liberal Democratic Party||135,807||11.3||9||8.4||1||10|
|Lithuanian People's Union For a Fair Lithuania|
|Liberal and Centre Union||109,872||9.2||7||12.4||11||18|
|Peasants and New
Democratic Party Union
|Lithuanian Peasants Party||78,902||6.6||5||7.7||5||10|
|New Democracy Party|
|Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania||45,302||3.8||0||4.5||2||2|
|Christian Conservative Social Union||23,426||1.9||0||1.9||0||0|
|Lithuanian Christian Democrats||16,362||1.4||0||2.5||0||0|
|National Centre Party||5,989||0.5||0||0||0|
|Lithuanian Social Democratic Union||3,977||0.3||0||0||0|
|Lithuanian Liberty Union||3,337||0.3||0||0.2||0||0|
|National Party Lithuanian Road||2,577||0.2||0||0.5||0||0|
|Lithuanian Nationalist Union||2,482||0.2||0||0||0|
|Lithuanian Russian Union||–||–||–||0.2||0||0|
|Source: Nohlen & Stöver, Strathclyde University, VRK|
Several aspects of the electoral campaign and voting came under criticism. In particular, allegations of vote buying, mostly implicating the Labour Party, emerged in voting by post, prompting the Seimas to consider changes in voting procedures. Social Democrats and New Union also accused the Labour Party of violating the rules for electoral campaigns and exceeding campaign spending limits.
Several possible coalitions emerged after the elections. Homeland Union and Liberal and Centre Union indicated their willingness to join a "rainbow" coalition with the Social Democrats, excluding only Labour and Liberal Democrats. Labour joined forces with Peasants and New Democratic Party Union and invited Social Democrats to join. Brazauskas initially ruled out a coalition with Labour, but eventually Social Democrats and New Union joined forces with the Labour Party and the Peasants, with Brazauskas as the Prime Minister.
- Includes 26 seats won by Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania and 19 won by Social Democratic Party of Lithuania. The two parties merged under the name of Social Democratic Party of Lithuania in 2001.
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