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Lithuania

Yearbook 1996

Lithuania. Also 1996 became a year of scandals in Lithuanian politics. Reluctantly, the experienced Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius resigned in February because of a so-called insider tip that he has plucked out his savings, 135,000 litas, ie. almost a quarter of a million SEK, two days before the bank went bankrupt. In addition, it turned out that the prime minister had twice as high interest rates as ordinary savers. The country's interior minister Romasis Vaitekunas also resigned. He, too, had picked out his modest savings in advance, corresponding to about SEK 14,000. More serious, however, was that, as the country's highest police chief, he drove around in a car stolen in Germany of the less modest kind.

1996 Lithuania

Early in the year, opinion polls showed that the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Workers' Party (LDDP), the former Communist Party that converted to social democracy, would have great difficulty retaining government power. Opposition leader Vytautas Landsbergis, "the father of Lithuanian independence", began to feel victory for his conservative party of the Fosterlands Union. The election campaign was largely characterized by promises to fight corruption, lawlessness and crime.

On Election Day, October 20, the 2.7 million eligible Lithuanians showed what they considered scandal and corruption policy. Only 51% went to the polls, which is a paltry percentage point from having been forced to cancel the election. After filling elections, Landsbergi's party captured as many as 86 of the 139 seats in the country's parliament. No less than 28 parties voted in the parliamentary elections.

A new political party that was noteworthy before the election was the former Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene's women's party, which, however, failed to manage the 5% entry block. New Prime Minister was Gediminas Vagnorius. Most of the ministerial posts were appointed by the Foster Union, but some portfolios were also allocated to the related Christian Democrats. As expected, Vytautas Landsbergis elected the Speaker of Parliament, a post he also held in 1990-92 during the dramatic struggle for L's independence. As President, Landsbergis obviously considered it to have the best chance of later being able to take the post of Head of State. The Lithuanian elections attracted great international interest. The country is regarded as a lacunae paper: as Lithuania votes, the rest of Central and Eastern Europe will also vote.

In foreign policy, the country continued its quest for membership in the EU and NATO during the year. Lithuania considers, unlike Estonia and Latvia, an important step in integration with Europe is membership of the CEFTA Central European Free Trade Organization. An annoying moment is the tight-knit border and oil dispute with Latvia.

Both inflation and unemployment declined during the year, but are still at an alarmingly high level.

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