Viewing cable 08VILNIUS77
Title: (C) GOVERNMENT COALITION BECOMES A MAJORITY:

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08VILNIUS772008-02-08 14:28:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO3309
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVL #0077 0391428
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081428Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1978
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000077 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2018 
TAGS: PGOV LH
SUBJECT: (C) GOVERNMENT COALITION BECOMES A MAJORITY: 
NEVERTHELESS, LITTLE CHANCE FOR CHANGE 
 
REF: VILNIUS 024 AND PREVIOUS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John A. Cloud for reason 1.4 (d). 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas 
successfully brought the New Union (Social Liberal) Party 
into his governing coalition the week of January 28, giving 
him a majority in parliament for the first time since taking 
office.  His bare majority (71 of 141 seats, plus the 
speaker) and the lack of discipline in the coalition, 
however, mean that he still will have trouble moving his own 
agenda forward.  We expect that he will continue to avoid 
tackling controversial issues until parliamentary elections 
in October.  End summary. 
 
¶2. (U) PM Kirkilas, taking advantage of the vacancy caused by 
Environment Minister Arunas Kundrotas's resignation, 
convinced New Union Chairman Arturas Paulauskas to join the 
ruling coalition on January 28, and take up the Minister's 
seat.  New Union's ten MPs will provide Kirkilas with a 
majority in the Seimas (parliament) for the first time since 
he became Prime Minister in July 2006. 
 
¶3. (U) Paulauskas drove a hard bargain for his cooperation. 
In addition to the Minister's post, he has sought the chairs 
of the Seimas National Security and Defense, European 
Affairs, and Anticorruption Committees for his party.  As of 
the conclusion of the fall session of parliament (February 
1), however, none of those posts has been transferred to New 
Union, and there is no guarantee this will happen when the 
spring session begins in a few weeks.  The current chair of 
the National Security and Defense Committee, Algimantas 
Matulevicius (a member of the coalition partner Civil 
Democracy Party), angrily offered his resignation during the 
negotiations, but this was rejected by the Seimas.  In order 
to take the chair of the European Affairs Committee, New 
Union will have to unseat Andrius Kubilius, Deputy Speaker of 
the Seimas, and leader of its second largest bloc. 
 
¶4. (U) The new coalition's frailty was almost immediately 
demonstrated by the January 31 vote on amendments to the 
Nuclear Power Plant law.  The controversial amendments were 
strongly and publicly opposed by coalition partner Liberal 
and Center Union (LCU), nine of whose ten MPs voted against 
them.  (Note:  Ultimately the measures passed thanks to the 
votes of the opposition Labor Party.)  LCU representatives 
later called for protests to be staged February 8 outside the 
Presidential Palace, to urge the President to veto the 
amendments. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶5. (C) Achieving a majority will not help Kirkilas overcome 
some of the problems he has had to date in promoting his 
policies.  He has spent the past eighteen months making deep 
compromises just to hold his minority coalition together. 
This has been especially true in his unwillingness to 
confront the Liberal and Center Union over construction at 
the Jewish cemetery in Vilnius (reftel).  The addition of 
another party, therefore, may be more of a detriment than a 
boost:  it is one more party he will have to appease. 
Bringing in New Union also does nothing to help him solidify 
his grip on his own party.  The Social Democrats voted 
uniformly in favor of the Nuclear Power Plant amendments -- 
something that is very dear to Kirkilas -- but he still has 
to work to maintain party discipline.  As one example, 
Defense Minister Olekas has been flexing his muscles very 
publicly in the last six months, likely with the October 
elections in mind.  We therefore see no reason to think that 
Kirkilas will be any bolder in pushing policies now, than he 
was with a minority coalition. 
CLOUD