Lithuanian left closes in on victory in advance of Oct. 14 parliamentary elections

It’s a great autumn for post-Soviet elections — not less than a month after a less-than-fair Belarusian election and after an upset in parliamentary elections in Georgia, and with Ukrainian elections set for the end of the month, another former Soviet republic is set to go to the polls in just two weeks — Lithuania, the largest and most populous of the three Baltic states.

In nearly every election since 1992, Lithuanians have see-sawed every four years between more right-wing and left-wing parties.  So after a more left-wing coalition governed from 2004 to 2008, Andrius Kubilius (pictured above with, heh, Santa Claus), who previously served as prime minister from 1999 to 2000, returned as prime minister as the leader of Tėvynės sąjunga – Lietuvos krikščionys demokratai (TS-LKD, Homeland Union — Lithuanian Christian Democrats).

And now, as the first round of this month’s elections approach on October 14, both of Lithuania’s two largest left-wing parties look set to return to power, with promises to end the current government’s austerity measures in order to focus on unemployment.

Lithuania’s Seimas, (in full, the Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas, or the Lithuanian National Parliament) is the Baltic nation’s 141-member unicameral legislature.  Members are elected for a set four-year term — 71 of the seats are elected in individual districts, whereas the remaining 70 seats are elected under proportional representation.  The threshold is 5% of the national vote for a single party and 7% for a multi-party coalition running together on the same slate.  The strict proportional representation members will be elected on October 14, while voting in individual districts will take place on October 14 and October 28 (in the event of a runoff between the top two candidates — in order to avoid a runoff, a candidate must win (i) an absolute majority with a turnout of over 40% or (ii) an absolute majority representing at least 20% of the registered voters in the constituency).

Even under the relatively high proportional representation standards for election to the Seimas, Lithuania has a fairly high number of parties, but two parties in particular seem to dominate Lithuanian politics: Homeland Union and the Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija (LSDP, Social Democratic Party of Lithuania).  The Social Democrats were the largest party in the coalition that emerged after the 2004 election, and look set to return in that role. Continue reading Lithuanian left closes in on victory in advance of Oct. 14 parliamentary elections