Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1237
Title: THE VIEW FROM ALYTUS: THE BLOOM IS OFF THE LABOR

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04VILNIUS12372004-10-08 10:37:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS VILNIUS 001237 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV LH
SUBJECT:  THE VIEW FROM ALYTUS:  THE BLOOM IS OFF THE LABOR 
PARTY'S ROSE 
 
 
¶1. SUMMARY.  Less than a week before Lithuania's 
parliamentary election, few in Alytus doubt that the Labor 
Party will taste electoral success.  However, a growing 
number question the Labor Party's populist promises and 
will support Lithuania's more tested traditional parties. 
End Summary. 
 
Alytus-Lithuania's Youngest City 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶2.  Alytus, which has more than 72,000 inhabitants, is 
Lithuania's sixth largest city and capital of the Dzukija 
region in Southern Lithuania.  Alytus is demographically 
Lithuania's youngest city, with more than 88 percent of the 
population working age or younger.  Harnessing the vibrancy 
of its youthful population, Alytus has developed rapidly 
since independence.  Alytus is home more than 2,000 
registered businesses, including some of Lithuania's 
largest, such as Alyta (spirits), Astra (machinery and 
spare parts), and Snaige (refrigerators).  Some 69 
businesses, including a major Coca-Cola production 
facility, have foreign direct investment. 
 
Labor Party Strong, But Losing Steam 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶3. The Labor Party enjoyed electoral success in June's 
European parliament elections, garnering 36 percent of the 
Alytus vote.  Few interlocutors believe that Labor will 
replicate its accomplishments October 10 in Lithuania's 
parliamentary elections.  The Mayor of Alytus City, 
Vytautas Kirkliauskas, a member of the Arturas Paulauskas- 
led New Union Party, told us that although the Labor Party 
was very popular in June, its popularity has steadily 
decreased.  He went on to say that voters are increasingly 
looking past the populist promises of Victor Uspaskich's 
party and scrutinizing the bona fides of the party's 
leaders and candidates.  What they have found is a party 
devoid of leaders, who seek change for the sake of change 
and are willing to promise nearly anything to secure 
electoral success.  Voicing New Union wishful thinking more 
that well-grounded political prediction, Kirkliauskas said 
that Alytus voters seek continuity in the Seimas, and will 
vote to keep in place a parliament that has achieved so 
much over the last three years. 
 
¶4.  Lina Ivoniniene, President of the Alytus NGO 
Information Center told us that the Labor Party has 
charismatic leaders, but it has not developed a strong base 
in Alytus.  Antanas Andriulionis, Chairman of the regional 
chapter of the Industrialists Confederation and recently 
retired General Director of Snaige, believes that the Labor 
Party may secure 30 percent of the vote locally, but that 
the Brazauskas-Paulauskas Coalition will run a strong 
second propelled by the Mayor's powerful persuasion. 
 
Active Campaigning-Weak Turnout 
------------------------------- 
 
¶5. Campaign literature for major political parties and 
independent candidates abounds in Alytus.  Political 
parties have tapped into the large youth base and helped 
create student political groups at the 1,300-strong Alytus 
College.  The leader of a non-partisan student NGO said 
that political parties provided financial support to local 
youth events in exchange for "unsolicited" support during 
the event.  The Brazauskas-Paulauskas Coalition, for 
example, provided 7,000 Litai (approximately $2,500 USD) to 
the organizers of an outdoor concert. 
 
¶6.  Despite the vigorous campaigning, Alytus voters may 
sleep in on October 10 rather than head to the polls. 
Several interlocutors expect a voter turnout of 55 percent. 
 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶7. Alytus has successfully discarded its Soviet economic 
and political legacy and transformed itself.  Rapid growth 
and plenty of investment, foreign and domestic, 
characterize the new city.  With all that Alytus has 
achieved, a sizable portion of the population will likely 
find the Labor Party's populist platform appealing.  Labor 
should win the plurality in the first round of voting. 
With the Barzauskas-Paulauskas Coalition in positions of 
leadership in Alytus, opposition to Labor may coalesce 
after round one, and the Labor Party may fare less well in 
second round run-offs for single mandate seats. 
 
MULL