Butkevicius approved as Lithuanian premier

 

Vilnius, Lithuania

Lithuania's parliament approved Algirdas Butkevicius as prime minister on Thursday, giving the Social Democrat leader 15 days to present a Cabinet and policy program for approval.

Lawmakers voted 90 to 40 with 4 abstentions to appoint Butkevicius, according to a live broadcast from the parliament in the capital, Vilnius. The 141-seat chamber, which convened this week after October elections, currently only has 139 members as ballots in two districts were declared invalid and will be repeated in March.

The premier-designate's Social Democrat party formed a coalition with the Labor Party, the Order & Justice party and the Lithuanian Polish Election Action. President Dalia Grybauskaite, who proposed Butkevicius for the post and must approve the new government's composition, opposes Labor's participation as it is suspected of fraud and voting violations.

Butkevicius, 54, served as finance minister in 2004-2005 and as transportation minister in 2006-2008. Speaking in parliament earlier this week, he quoted U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, saying the new government would seek to be "for the people" by focusing less on fiscal discipline and more on economic stimulus.

Grybauskaite's decision this week to nominate Butkevicius ended three weeks of wrangling between the two politicians over the inclusion of the Labor Party in the coalition.

General Prosecutor Darius Valys asked parliament Thursday to remove the immunity from prosecution of three Labor members in the chamber: party and faction head Viktor Uspaskich, first deputy speaker Vytautas Gapsys, and Vitalija Vonzutaite of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Lawmakers' approval is necessary in order to continue a criminal case, now before a Vilnius court, in which the three are charged with accounting and tax fraud on behalf of their party, the prosecutor's office said in an e-mailed statement.

Lithuania's highest court on Nov. 14 said violations linked to Labor and other parties during the election weren't substantial enough to invalidate the results, except in two single-mandate districts.

Grybauskaite criticized the Social Democrats for agreeing to work with the Labor Party in her statement nominating Butkevicius. She said she named him because nobody else was able to form a majority coalition.

"Only time will tell whether this majority's concern will be the welfare of the people of Lithuania or rather delays of criminal cases" against its members "and the divvying up of money to the benefit of criminal oligarchic groups," the president said in her statement.

The signs of deepening suspicion between the two branches of government "will turn into open confrontation if the coalition does not revoke the immunity of the Labor Party members under criminal investigation," according to Oxford University's Ainius Lasas.

"The president might make the revoking of immunity a precondition for her approval of the new government," Lasas, who is a Senior Research Fellow focusing on media and democracy in eastern Europe, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot