Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 78

A special session of the Lithuanian parliament yesterday approved a motion expressing confidence in Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius’ ability to continue in office and to fulfill the government’s program, and favorably assessing both the prime minister’s and the government’s records. The motion in this form constitutes a rebuke to President Valdas Adamkus. Two days earlier, Adamkus had gone on national television to announce that he had lost confidence in Vagnorius and considered him unfit to lead the government, asking the parliament to replace him and some ministers.

Initiated by the main governing party, Fatherland Union/Conservatives (FU/C), and eventually supported by their Christian-Democrat allies, the motion passed by a margin of 77 to 46. That margin and the fact that the balloting was secret testify to the parliamentary majority’s discipline. Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, who has had his differences with Vagnorius in the past, rallied to him as did the party. Landsbergis disputed Adamkus’ rating of Vagnorius’ performance and urged the chamber to pass the motion of confidence in the prime minister. Concurrently with their state posts, Landsbergis and Vagnorius hold the posts of chairman of FU/C and chairman of the party’s board, respectively. Addressing the parliament before the vote, Vagnorius defended the record of his two-year old government, and argued that if he withdrew under pressure, a successor government would be subservient to the president.

Adamkus reacted with a statement obliquely criticizing FU/C: “I offered the Conservatives an opportunity to act in Lithuania’s interest. Unfortunately they did not take it.” The president refrained from criticizing the Christian-Democrats–an indication that the presidential office plans to continue the attempts to make inroads into their ranks. The left-of-center opposition parties voted against the motion of confidence, thereby siding with the president. This development may signal a reversal of alliances. Adamkus has been aligned with FU/C until now. The confrontation is perforce suspended due to Adamkus’ departure for the United States to attend the NATO summit.

Local observers tend to regard the Adamkus-Vagnorius conflict as one of personalities rather than policies. They also cite a cultural factor which presumably exacerbates misunderstandings between the president–a product of the American political experience–and the locally reared prime minister (BNS, April 21).