2021.09.07 11:13

Lithuania’s former PM forms new parliamentary group, splits biggest opposition party

BNS2021.09.07 11:13

Saulius Skvernelis, a former prime minister of Lithuania, and nine other MPs have left the Farmers and Greens Union's (LVŽS) political group in the Seimas to form a new faction. 

Several MPs from the non-attached group are also expected to join the new group, called “Demokratai – vardan Lietuvos” (Democrats – for Lithuania).

"The new group [...] will be registered as soon as the autumn session opens," Linas Kukuraitis, a former social security and labor minister, told reporters on Tuesday.

Apart from Kukuraitis and Skvernelis, the new group will also include Rima Baškienė, Vytautas Bakas, Domas Griškevičius, Rūta Miliūtė, Laima Mogenienė, Laima Nagienė, Lukas Savickas, Algirdas Stončaitis, Zenonas Streikus, Tomas Tomilinas, and Algirdas Butkevičius.

The 13-member group is ready to work as "a constructive opposition", according to Kukuraitis. The Farms and Greens' group will have 22 members following the withdrawal of the 10 MPs.

"What we see today in Lithuania is a polarised, divided nation, a situation that unfortunately benefits a large number of politicians," Skvernelis said. "After long deliberations, my colleagues and I have decided that we do not want to be part of the politics of division and polarisation."

"The new group is not a split-off or artificial political formation; this the bringing together of partners and like-minded people," he said. "As Linas [Kukuraitis] has already mentioned, we will act as a constructive opposition to the current government."

When asked whether members of the new group would create a new political force ahead of the next election, Skvernelis said it was a premature question.

He said the new group would elect their head shortly, adding that the post would rotate every session.

Skvernelis hinted after last month's riot outside the parliament building that he might leave the LVŽS parliamentary group due to "uncompromising differences" between some of its members.

Read more: Protesters clash with police as rally outside Lithuanian parliament turns violent

The Farmers and Greens were "a dignified, solid political force with responsibility for the government" when they were in power, but things changed when they became an opposition party, according to him.

Lukas Savickas, a former adviser to Skvernelis, also said after the riot that he was leaving the LVŽS group.

Skvernelis, who is not a member of any political party, was appointed prime minister after the Farmers and Greens won the 2016 parliamentary election and stayed in the post until December 2020.

He ran for parliament on the LVŽS ticket last year as well.

Skvernelis also ran for president in 2019, coming in third behind Ingrida Šimonytė, the current prime minister, and Gitanas Nausėda, the incumbent president.

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