Labour’s agony: Experts weigh in on their future

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News portal tv3.lt reminds that the Labor Party first came under the radar of law enforcement back in 2006. The story dubbed “Black Accounting” continued for about a decade – in the end, Vytautas Gapšys, who is currently serving a prison sentence, long-time party leader V. Uspaskich and the party’s former financier

Later, the party, together with the conservatives, was at the center of the “MG Baltic” case – although the first instance of the court acquitted the former vice-president of the “MG Baltic” concern R. Kurlianskis, the former leader of the Liberal movement Eligijius Masiulis and V. Gapšis, who was a member of the Labor Party, who were accused of taking bribes, the appeals court changed the decision and sentenced the mentioned persons to imprisonment. And the party itself received a hundred thousand fine – at that time there were questions about how the party would finance participation in the elections.

V. Gapšys is currently serving 4 years and 6 months. a term of imprisonment at Technikos g. in the semi-open Kaunas prison. As previously reported by the news portal tv3.lt, his imprisonment conditions could have been eased, and the mandate of V. Gapšis as a member of the Seimas could not be revoked – therefore, he continues to work as a member of the Seimas, only behind bars.

And the last blow to the Labor Party came very recently – at the end of March, law enforcement visited the headquarters of the Labor Party. The Financial Crimes Investigation Service (FNTT), which searched the headquarters of the Labor Party, specified what the only representative of the Labor Party in the European Parliament, Viktoras Uspaskich, might have committed. Based on the information provided, the fraudulent acquisition of foreign assets of high value and the falsification of documents in the European Parliament are being investigated.

The chairman of the party and the party’s candidate for the presidential elections, Andrius Mazuronis, reacted quite sensitively to the unpleasant news. He did not rule out the possibility of the dissolution of the party either

“Today we will decide, we will consider (whether the Labor Party has a future – BNS). All options are possible, both the release and all other options, everything is possible,” A. Mazuronis told the journalists gathered in the Seimas on Thursday.

“We are tired of explaining about problems created by other people, in which we were not involved, nor are we aware of and only heard about two days ago,” he added.

He proposes to liquidate the party

Communication expert Linas Kontrimas, commenting on A. Mazuronis’s words, said that launching the party is one of the best possible scenarios. According to the communication specialist, this would set a good example for other political forces.

“The only voice of sanity was the current chairman’s impromptu statement that it would be best to dissolve the party. This would be a step worthy of respect and attention, because it is not very good to imagine that the political landscape of Lithuania is a country of stupid, unsuspecting voters,” said L. Kontrimas.

“On the other hand, voters in this country are very often fooled by characters of a similar caliber who were also in the Labor Party. Such an indulgence would be an extremely wise step, an example for others,” the communication expert added.

If this decision is not taken, according to L. Kontrim, the party will continue to maneuver on the verge of extinction.

“She will have as much future as the voters give her.” And we saw that the voters were always lenient towards this party, no matter how much the leader of this party V. Uspaskich used to earn negative works.

If the voters who travel for him will support the party, the party will continue to run like this of life/non-life limits”, said L. Kontrimas.

Political scientist Saulius Spurga also agreed with this assessment – according to him, the party should be liquidated. As the political scientist stated, the Labor Party has so far relied only on the person of V. Uspaskich, and he currently has a number of legal problems.

“In my opinion, A. Mazuroni’s proposal is quite rational. Enough scandals for this party. It should be noted that the popularity of this party was almost exclusively related to the name of V. Uspaskich.

Bearing in mind that the investigation of the European Prosecutor’s Office is aimed specifically at Uspaskich, even from a pragmatic point of view, the party has little hope of a successful existence”, said S. Spurga.

Linas Kontrimas BNS Photo

Party of one person

For a long time, the Labor Party was seen as a party ruled by one man – Viktor Uspaskich, which acquired the characteristics of a personality cult. This is what both interviewed experts mentioned to the news portal tv3.lt.

“We must clearly state that this party was not created due to an ideological need, but to satisfy the ambitions of one person. It was his own party for a long time. One thing should be emphasized – V. Uspaskich may no longer remember, or may not want to remember, certain things related to party and political activities. What I see from his spread – he himself has changed a lot, his life and world evaluation interests are completely different than they were 10 or 15 years ago.

Without this leader, the party cannot find its identity. We don’t understand what kind of organization this is – the current chairman, A. Mazuronis, calls himself a liberal,” said L. Kontrimas.

To be fair, it should be said that since the founding of the party in 2003, 7 different persons have held the position of party chairman – such a rotation is not particularly different from other political parties.

However, many chairmen of the party served for a very short time – for example, V. Gapšys led the party in 2013, Loreta Graužinienė – from 2013 to 2015, Valentinas Mazuronis – from 2015 to 2016.

In addition, after the departure of V. Uspaskich, the party was not particularly successful in the elections. V. Uspaskich led the party from 2003 to 2006, from 2007 to 2013, and from 2018 to 2022. And from 2022 until now, the party is led by Andrius Mazuronis.

Viktoras Uspaskich BNS Photo

It was during the leadership period of V. Uspaskich that the party experienced its greatest victories – in 2004. During the Seimas elections, it collected as much as 28.4 percent. votes and temporarily formed a coalition. The party was also successful in 2012. During the Seimas elections – at that time the party received 18.8 percent. votes and formed a coalition.

And here is the party’s biggest defeat when V. Uspaskich resigned from the post of party chairman – in 2016. the party failed to exceed 5%. barrier.

In the opinion of political scientist S. Spurga, the Labor Party can expect an even worse result during the next Seimas elections, since the party will not be led by V. Uspaskich again.

“It could be worse. The party has no ideology, no values, it always wanted to please everyone. And we have many such parties. The party also lacks prominent personalities. From a political point of view, I don’t see how this party should survive. It might not be so bad, but the party is constantly haunted by scandals related to the activities of its chairman and the activities of other party members,” said the political scientist.

Saulius Spurga (photo by Josvydas Elinskas)

The impression of the cult of personality was also strengthened by the scandal that arose during the COVID pandemic, when the then party chairman and party star V. Uspaskich was selling water that supposedly protects and cures COVID-19.

“We got the energy code of this virus from the Chinese, you can freely call it that. From the Chinese, because we have been communicating for a long time. And we are creating such a program for the elimination of COVID-19”, announced the Chairman of the Labor Party, Viktoras Uspaskich.

When the scandal arose, most party members did not condemn the “healing water” proposal – only professional gambler Antanas Guoga, who was a member of the Seimas at the time, reacted to it.

The homophobic thoughts expressed by V. Uspaskich also had an impact in society – at that time, V. Uspaskich called homosexuals “pediks” and “perverts”, although he later apologized that he was misunderstood. After this incident, A. Guoga refused the mandate of a member of the Seimas.

It is true, later it turned out that he could have refused the mandate for other reasons – continuous business ties, for which he could have been impeached.

Antanas Guoga (Paulius Peleckis/Fotobank)

Future prospects are bleak

For now, it remains unclear which direction the Labor Party will take. Their chairman and presidential candidate Andrii Mazuronis managed to collect 20,000. of signatures required to participate in the presidential election.

However, public opinion polls show that his chances of getting to the second round are extremely low. Political scientist S. Spurga claims that it is naive to expect the formation of a new political party after the dissolution of the party.

“Even for V. Uspaskich with such a reputation, it would be difficult to create a new party. This party survived because it used to have quite a few members, the New Union joined their ranks earlier, it had branches in the districts. This helped this party to survive”, S. Spurga explained.

According to the political scientist, it is difficult to answer which political force the former labor party voters would go to.

“There is no single answer. This party declared very liberal ideas from a business point of view, while at the same time advocating for higher benefits or ideas with a social-democratic bent. And in the end, it all boils down to personality. Apparently those voters will look for some other personality. Some may vote for social democrats, some for liberals,” the political scientist thought.

According to L. Kontrim, the Labor Party could consider the scenario of merging with another political force.

“Another step that should be considered is the merging of parties. This version is available. It’s one thing to have a party, as a legal entity, name and all. But the other thing is the people working in the party – they can gather together and consider where the healthy part of the party could be helped,” explained L. Kontrimas.


The article is in Lithuanian

Tags: Labours agony Experts weigh future

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