Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1323

04VILNIUS13232004-10-25 15:47:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 001323 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2014 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Officer Nancy Cohen for reasons 1.4(b) 
and (d). 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Victor Uspaskich's Labor Party won a 
plurality in the final round of Lithuanian parliamentary 
elections, October 24, but failed to guarantee its place in a 
ruling coalition.  Over the next few weeks, President Valdas 
Adamkus must invite the leader of the winning party or 
coalition to form a government.  Since the law allows the 
President to nominate the leader of a post-election 
coalition, Uspaskich is not the only potential nominee for 
Prime Minister.  Intense political maneuvering will determine 
the configuration of the next government.  Of the two most 
likely unions, one would tilt leftward with Labor and the 
Brazauskas-Paulauskas Party as its core, while the other 
would unite left, right, and center and exclude Labor. 
Numbers and politics dictate that the Brazauskas-Paulauskas 
coalition will be in the Government.  Our best guess is that 
the coalition will opt to choose Labor as a partner, despite 
Adamkus' efforts to the contrary.  End Summary. 
The Final Count: Labor at the Head of the Pack 
--------------------------------------------- - 
¶2. (U) Lithuania's Labor Party took 39 seats of a total 141 
in parliamentary elections that ended October 24.  The 
Brazauskas-Paulauskas Coalition (Social Democratic and New 
Union Parties) came in with 31 seats.  The final tally looks 
like this: 
Labor Party                                 39 
Brazauskas-Paulauskas                       31 
Conservatives                               25 
Liberal Center                              18 
Paksas Coalition                            11 
Peasant Party                               10 
Independents                                 7 
¶3. (U) Margins of victory of four to 61 votes in three 
districts have triggered recounts and some independent MPs 
may announce new political allegiance to one party or 
another, but overall numbers will not change dramatically. 
Accusations of vote buying, especially associated with mailed 
ballots, have been widespread, but no party has yet 
challenged the final results or the general fairness of the 
election.  The election will nearly double the number of 
women in Lithuania's parliament (Seimas), bringing the total 
to 29 or roughly 20 percent of the chamber's membership. 
Labor accounts for most of the new women MPs.  Of the former 
137 sitting members of parliament, only 58 will return in the 
new Seimas. 
Next Steps: The Mechanics and Timetable 
¶4. (U) It falls to Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus to 
convene the next parliament and nominate the Prime Minister. 
The first session of the new Seimas should begin between 
November 10 and 15.  The President then has 15 days to 
present formally his choice for PM, and the legislature must 
vote the President's candidate up or down within a week.  The 
new Prime Minister has 15 days from confirmation within which 
to propose his Cabinet (with Presidential endorsement) to the 
Seimas, which then has another two weeks to approve the 
slate.  The earliest a new Government could take power is 
November 16; the latest January 6, 2005.  If the Seimas 
rejects the President's PM candidate twice, it's back to the 
drawing board -- the President can call for new parliamentary 
elections.  (We don't foresee that happening, however.) 
Coalition Building 
Left and Center 
¶5. (C) Since no party or coalition emerged with an outright 
majority, all are wrangling for position in an eventual 
ruling coalition.  The President will interview the 
chairperson of each political party on October 25 to discuss 
coalition options, and the party leaders are meeting among 
themselves to determine viable partnership arrangements. 
¶6. (C) Today, one day after the final vote, a left-tilting 
alliance seems the likeliest outcome.  Immediately after the 
results were in, Uspaskich formed an alliance with Kazimiera 
Prunskiene's Peasant Party, picking up an additional ten 
seats.  Uspaskich also announced that, if the Social 
Democrats and New Union join his block, he would accept 
current PM Brazauskas as the Prime Minister, fulfilling the 
PM's previously stated condition for an alliance with Labor. 
The center-left coalition Uspaskich outlined would have 
ideological coherence and a solid 80 seats.  Uspaskich said 
he would welcome the center-right Liberal and Center Party to 
the fold in order to obtain the broadest possible coalition 
-- not to mention another 18 seats.  Upon exiting his 
interview with Adamkus later in the day, Brazauskas said he 
was considering an invitation from the Uspaskich-Prunskiene 
alliance to form a coalition. 
Rainbow Coalition 
¶7. (C) The most viable alternative to the leftist-centrist 
coalition would embrace political parties of nearly all 
stripes -- except Labor -- and has earned the title "rainbow 
coalition."  As votes were being cast, Vytautis Lansbergis, 
father of the Lithuania's independence movement and former 
Conservative party leader, called for such a coalition.  The 
union of leftist Social Democrats and New Union with the 
Liberal and Center Party and Conservatives would achieve a 
majority and keep Uspaskich out of the Government, 
Landsbergis's stated goal.  Given the ideological and 
programmatic differences of these parties, however, such an 
alliance would be unwieldy.  Already, these interparty 
differences are complicating its creation, with both Social 
Democrat Brazauskas and Conservative leader Andrius Kubilius 
claiming the right to form a government. Nonetheless, 
President Adamkuspublicly announced today his preference for 
this outcome.  Adamkus arranged a similar alliance with 
Rolandas Paksas in 2000; it proved short-lived. 
Minority Government 
¶8. (C) A third option which Brazauskas mentioned upon leaving 
his meeting with the President was to form a minority 
government of Social Democrats, New Union, and Liberal and 
Center parties.  Under this scenario, the Conservatives would 
remain outside the government, but support many government 
¶9. (C) Brazauskas, not Adamkus, wields the real power in the 
coalition-building process.  For him, the key question comes 
down to whether the Conservative or Labor Party will be out 
in the cold.  The situation remains fluid, but our best guess 
is that he will opt for Labor as a partner.  Given the 
ideological proximity of Brazauskas, Palauskas, and 
Uspaskich, such a coalition would probably prove more 
programmatically coherent and stable than the alternative. 
The underlying assumption by the established center-left in 
this scenario would be that the experience of governing would 
mature and mellow Labor. 
¶10. (C) Uspaskich's early alliance with Prunskiene is an 
unsettling development in the post-election jockeying.  Of 
all presidential candidates in this year's May elections, 
only Prunskiene spoke of reducing U.S. influence in Lithuania 
and in Europe (ref A).  On October 5, after signing with all 
other political party leaders a pre-parliamentary election 
joint declaration of commitment to foreign policy goals, 
including strong transatlantic ties and increased cooperation 
with the USG, Prunskiene told the press she might want to 
revisit this goal. 
¶11.  (C) Politics, rather than a hidden agenda against us, 
probably motivates Uspaskich.  We think that he announced his 
alliance with Prunskiene in order to present himself as 
controlling more votes than any other leader when he met 
today with President Adamkus.  If Labor does reach 
government, Prunskiene, as one of many junior partners in a 
coalition, will not be well-positioned to change the 
pro-American course of Lithuania's foreign policy.    In any 
event, under any possible scenario, we will work with old and 
new friends in the political arena to preserve our strong 
bilateral relationship.