Lithuanian politics has been thrown into turmoil after Dalia Grybauskaite, the country's president, this week vetoed the emerging left-of-centre government because of allegations of vote-buying.
Grybauskaite said on Monday (29 October) that police are investigating 27 election irregularities, 18 of which concern allegations of buying votes. Most of them involve the Labour Party, which is affiliated with the European liberal movement. Labour came third in the two-round election, which ended on Sunday, and was already discussing a new government with the winning party, the Social Democrats.
Labour's leader, Viktor Uspaskich, an MEP, is embroiled in a long-running party-financing scandal that has resulted in a ban on taking a seat in the Lithuanian parliament. Criminal charges against him were increased last week, raising the possibility of an eight-year jail term for him.
In rejecting Labour membership of a government, Grybauskaite? cited that scandal as well as the allegations of electoral misconduct.
It is now “anyone's guess” what the next government will be, a Lithuanian official said.
Algirdas Butkevicius, the Social Democrats' leader, has ruled out forming a minority government. A majority government could be formed with the largest party in the outgoing government, the conservative Homeland Union of Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. However, it would have just 71 seats in the 141-seat parliament. Such a coalition could be strengthened by including the other governing party, the Liberal Movement, which has ten seats. However, neither Kubilius nor the Liberal Movement wants a rainbow government.
A Social Democrat-led majority government without the Homeland Union or the Labour Party would have to involve five other parties and would enjoy a majority of just three seats.
Lithuanian officials say that, whatever government is formed, the country's plans for its presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers in 2013 should not be affected as all parliamentary parties last year signed up to the plans.