Giacomo Fracassi

Lithuanian government in face-off with oppositions over expenses scandal

Seimas | #StandWithUkraine @LRSeimas
The Lithuanian Parliament - Seimas.

Lithuania is facing a political crisis over the demise of the government, with coalition members calling for resignation while the government led by Ingrida Simonyte pushing for snap elections, following a scandal on politicians’ expenses. The current political climate is calling into question the ability of the Baltic state to host the NATO summit in July.

The scandal has already called for the first resignation in the government, as Education Minister Jurgita Siugzdiniene resigned her position. Other ministers are currently explaining in details their expenses. The scandal broke after municipal expenses report were published, rousing suspicions that several city council members abused expense reimbursement claims. Siugzdiniene was a member of Kaunas city council before joining the government in 2020.

Ruling coalition party Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) has so far opposed calls for a government resignation over the scandal. The centre-right party argues that the scandal is going to hit all parties and views the request for resignations as unfair. The party is calling for snap elections, disbanding the parliament one year ahead of schedule.

The chairman of TS-LKD, Gabrielius Landsbergis, called opposition groups for a meeting to discuss potential plans for early election on May 23, but the meeting didn’t go though. Even coalition members are doubting TS-LKD’s plan, as they have not been consulted. The current government is a coalition between three parties, TS-LKD, the Freedom Party and the Liberal Movement. In order to call for snap elections, the government needs 85 votes in the 141-seats parliament, 11 more than the coalition has.

Oppositions prefer the formation of a new government before any talks of new elections. The leader of centrist party Democratic Union and former PM Saulius Skvernelis told Lithuanian public media “Let the ruling coalition form a new government – and if they fail, then we can speak about early elections, we would support it in that case.”

Landsbergis, who is also Foreign Minister in the government, reassured that a possible snap election in the upcoming months will not affect the NATO summit in July, adding that “The changes, if there are any, will take place only after NATO summit is over.”

Explore more