On 23rd October, 2016 the Farmers’ and Green Party won in the second round of the Lithuanian general elections. Led by its leader Ramūnas Karbauskis, it now has 56 seats in the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. It drew ahead of the Homeland Union-Christian Democratic Party, which has 31 MPs, of Gabrielius Landsbergis, who had expressed his personal support for same-sex partnerships, and the Social Democratic Party of outgoing Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, which won 17 seats.
The Liberal Movement won 14 seats, Electoral Action for Lithuanian Poles, a party representing the Lithuania’s Polish minority led by Waldemar Tomaszewski, won 8 seats, likewise Order and Justice, a populist, right-wing party led by Rolandas Paksas. The turnout at the first poll on 9th October totalled 50 %, on the second – 38%.
Ramūnas Karbaukis, the leader of the Farmers’ and Green Party, had repeatedly expressed his disapproval of addressing some human rights problems existing in Lithuania: introducing civil partnerships – both for same-sex and different-sex – and assisted insemination.
According to Mr. Karbauskis, relationships between unmarried couples should be regulated by the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania. However, he did not specify how the Civil Code should solve the issues cohabitating couples face living without the protection of the State.
Furthermore, the leader of the Farmers’ and Green Party expressed his apprehension that introduced partnerships for different-sex couples would encourage same-sex couples to seek recognition of their relationships before the European Court of Human Rights. “In our opinion, this is done in order to create legal consequences that would force us to take decisions on same-sex families”, claimed Mr. Karbauskis.
Interestingly though, Ramūnas Karbaukis and Saulius Skvernelis, who played an important role in the Farmers and Green Party’s electoral victory, were of different opinions regarding introduction of same-sex partnerships in Lithuania. “The State cannot intervene with personal relationships of its citizens. However, there are some legal issues not solved today, so I think we need to legally regulate partnerships,” claimed Mr. Skvernelis.
Mr. Karbauskis likewise expressed his disapproval of newly passed assisted insemination law. “The Parliament did not focus on the problem, because existing naprotechnologies are successfully used in Europe. In fact, it achieves a higher percentage of fertility without the use of hormones, transplants and so on. The cost of embryo implantation surgery is five times higher than technologies used in Poland and many other countries. For us, the question is what will happen to the frozen embryos that are not used?” insisted the politician.
The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ party, the top competitors of the Farmers’ and Green’s Party and possible coalition partners, are likewise torn by disagreements on same-sex partnerships. Since Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Chairman of the Homeland Union party, had spoken about his support for same-sex partnerships in September, Irena Degutienė, the party’s Vice-Chairperson, felt the need to address the divisions within the party on the issue during the party‘s Council meeting.
“I am pleased that our party is democratic, there is an opportunity to speak freely and express one’s position without fear that someone will condemn you. However, the party program was always oriented towards family values, towards the idea of family, and despite failing to change the Constitution regarding the definition of family, I am hopeful that stronger forces will emerge in the newly elected Parliament and we will be able to amend it,” commented Ms. Degutienė.
The Farmers’ and Green’s Party has promised to increase economic growth and salaries to stop the emigration of many Lithuanians, a theme that formed the heart of the electoral campaign debate. The Farmers’ and Green’s Party also aims at modifying the Labour Code which was adopted just a few months ago, to reduce the number of ministries and to create a State monopoly regarding the distribution of alcohol.