Although the Social Democrats won the most seats in the election, they chose the Labor Party as one coalition partner to form a majority government. The Lithuanian president rejected the choice since there are several charges against some Labor members.
The ruling center-right coalition government was punished for implementing severe austerity measures to help curb the country's deficit. Although the economy has gone from recession to some growth now, unemployment is high and people are angry at the austerity measures.
The opposition Social Democrats won the most seats but to form a majority government the party planned to form a coalition with the third and fourth place finishers. The Labor Party came third and the Order and Justice Party came fourth.
However, the Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, announced to reporters that she could not accept the Labor Party as part of the government. Prosecutors and election officials have accused two Labor Party members of vote buying. The leader of the party, Viktor Uspaskich, is under investigation for a supposed role in fraudulent party financing. In an earlier government, Uspaskich was forced to resign as minister of the economy, in 2006, due to a conflict of interest case involving business in Russia. Nevertheless, he managed to get re-elected. Grybauskaite said:"I believe that a party suspected of serious electoral law violations should not be allowed to participate in forming a new government."
For his part Uspaskich responded angrily that Lithuania was a democratic country and "..no one has a right to spit on the people's choice." Actually, Uspaskich had offered to step down as leader, before the election, if the party thought this would help the party electorally. Perhaps he should step down now in a deal to form the coalition government.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Algirdas Butkevicius, would have problems fining another coalition partner once the Labor Party is out of the picture. There is a possibility that the conservative party of Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius which came second in the election, could be asked to form a government. Kubilius actually suggested that he would enter talks for a coalition with the Social Democrats.
However, the Social Democrats want to repeal some of the austerity measures that the Kubilius government passed and they are also opposed to building a new nuclear power plant advocated by Kubilius. A coailition between the two is highly unlikely.
Apparently Grybauskaite has limited powers as president. He may end up simply having to accept the three party coalition suggested by the Social Democrats.
Perhaps the Social Democrats may be able to work out some compromise in which the Labor Party leader steps down. The two Labor members accused of wrongdoing might resign. These steps might be sufficient to gain the approval of the president for the coalition government. If the coalition is approved the government would have 78 of 141 seats in the legislature.
According to a Reuters report the Social Democrats have rejected any change in their coalition in spite of the remarks of president Grybauskaite that one of the parties in the coalition is not fit to rule. Perhaps there will be no political crisis, just a very unhappy president.