UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000620
TAGS: PREL PGOV LH
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVES KIRKILAS AS PRIME
REF: VILNIUS 610
VILNIUS 00000620 001.2 OF 002
Â¶1. (SBU) Lithuania's parliament overwhelmingly approved Acting
Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas for the post of Prime Minister
on July 4. The Social Democrat must submit the government's program
and his proposed cabinet to the parliament by July 19, but may do so
sooner. Zigmantas Balcytis will continue to serve as acting Prime
Minister until the parliament approves the cabinet and the new
government's program. The precise composition of the new cabinet is
not yet clear. This Mission had an excellent relationship with
Kirkilas while he was Minister of Defense. We expect more of the
same as he moves to the PM's office. End summary.
KIRKILAS RECEIVES BROAD SUPPORT
Â¶2. (U) Lithuania's parliament confirmed acting Defense Minister
Gediminas Kirkilas for the post of Prime Minister on July 4.
Kirkilas received 86 votes in the parliament; 13 MPs voted against
him, and 5 abstained. The 53 members of the Social Democrat-led
coalition, which includes the Civil Democracy Party (a breakaway
faction of the Labor Party), the Liberal and Center Union, and the
National Farmers' Union, all supported Kirkilas, as did the Social
Liberal and Labor parties. (Labor's support was surprising, because
the party spent the days leading up to the vote raising questions
about the validity of one of Kirkilas's university degrees and
calling on President Adamkus to revoke his nomination of Kirkilas.)
The Liberal Democrats (the party of impeached former President
Rolandas Paksas) and the most of the conservative Liberal Movement
voted against Kirkilas's candidacy. Two Liberal Movement members,
two members of the conservative Homeland Union, and an independent
Â¶3. (U) The Homeland Union, the largest party on the right, did not
participate in the vote, thereby lending support to Kirkilas's
candidacy. Kirkilas needed to get a majority of the votes of those
present to gain confirmation, meaning that an abstention was really
a "no" vote. The Homeland Union's non-participation therefore
implied support for Kirkilas's candidacy.
Â¶4. (U) Kirkilas told reporters after the vote that his 53-member
center-left coalition intends to form a minority government. He
also said that the Social Democrats should hold the most posts in
the new government and hinted that parliamentary committee
chairmanships could go to parties outside the coalition that
supported his candidacy.
Â¶5. (U) Lithuania's constitution gives Kirkilas 15 days to submit his
cabinet and his government's program to the Seimas for approval.
Parliament then has to vote on the cabinet and program within 15
Â¶6. (SBU) Parliament may move more quickly than the constitution
requires, as the current legislative session will end on July 20.
The parliamentary leadership has approved, but not publicly
released, the following timetable:
-- July 13 (Thursday) - The PM-designate will submit the
government's program and the list of his cabinet members to the
-- July 18 (Tuesday) - The parliament will consider and vote on the
government's program. A simple majority of those present must
approve. Cabinet members will then take the oath of office, if
Â¶7. (U) If MPs do not approve the government's program, they will
return it to PM-designate. The PM must then present a revised
version of the government program to the parliament within 10 days.
If the parliament does not vote on the government's program within
30 days after the PM-designate's submission or if parliament
disapproves the program twice in succession within 60 days, the
President has the right to announce pre-term elections.
Â¶8. (U) Zigmantas Balcytis will continue to serve as acting Prime
Minister, and current acting ministers will remain in their posts,
until the new cabinet members take the oath of office.
VILNIUS 00000620 002.2 OF 002
Â¶9. (SBU) The shape of the new cabinet is not yet clear and many
pundits here say that Kirkilas will have a difficult task cobbling
together a team that will win parliamentary approval. Kirkilas has
already proven himself an adept dealmaker, however, garnering more
parliamentary votes for his minority coalition than former PM
Algirdas Brazauskas ever managed in leading two governments that
enjoyed majority support in parliament. We think that the
PM-designate's skill and the desire of most Lithuanian political
leaders to get the latest crisis behind them will enable the new
government to take office. This Mission has developed an excellent
working relationship with Kirkilas in his role as Defense Minister,
and we expect more of the same as he settles into a new role.