On Wednesday, November 25th, the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, named Ingrida Šimonytė of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), as Lithuania’s new prime minister.  President Nausėda announced that Prime Minister Šimonytė will be given 15 days to submit an official list of ministerial candidates and a government program to the Seimas, which will then vote to confirm the government (Lithuanian president appoints, 2020).

Ingrida Šimonytė (at right), with Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, and Aušrinė Armonaitė.
Photo Credit: LRT (Lithuanian Radio and Television)

The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) were declared the winners of Lithuania’s 2020 parliamentary election on October 25, 2020, after securing 50 seats.  While the TS-LKD has a great deal to celebrate, they face a difficult road ahead.  Lithuania, like a number of EU countries, is facing a serious second-wave of Coronavirus cases, with 1,169 new cases, 37,222 active cases, and 409 deaths, as of Tuesday, November 24th (1169 new, 2020).  In an effort to promptly address this difficult situation, Ingrida Šimonytė, the TS-LKD’s candidate for prime minister, and Gabrielius Landsbergis, the TS-LKD’s party leader, began coalition talks with the women-led Liberal Movement (LRLS) and Freedom Party (LP), in the days immediately following the election (Lithuania’s election, 2020).  While both the LRLS and the LP have significantly more liberal platforms, these parties were viewed as the best potential partners for the TS-LKD in a center-right coalition.  Furthermore, the LRLS won 13 seats and the LP secured 11 seats, which means these parties must partake in a coalition with a major party, if their policies are to have a good chance of being implemented at the national level.

On Wednesday, October 28th, Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda outlined his expectations for the country’s new TS-LKD government (Lithuanian president presents, 2020).  He stated that the government must administer an effective plan of action for the Coronavirus pandemic, work to decrease the country’s income inequality, increase spending on research and development to match that of other EU countries, and take care of Lithuania’s welfare state (Lithuanian president presents, 2020).  With these objectives in mind, the TS-LKD, LRLS, and LP gathered together in order to begin drafting a coalition agreement.  While President Nausėda’s aims were rather broad, each party had to work to make sure elements of its platform were included. 

As the leader of the coalition talks, the conservative TS-LKD concentrated its efforts on implementing a more transparent response to the Coronavirus pandemic (PM candidate, 2020) and reforming the healthcare sector, education system, and Lithuanian economy (Šuliokas, 2020).  The LRLS and the LP, on the other hand, have sought to address issues that typically exist outside of the center-right’s political spere.  Both parties have argued that the government must lower personal income taxes, legalize same-sex civil partnerships, permit Lithuanians to have dual citizenship, and allow individuals to use non-Lithuanian characters on government identification documents (Lithuania’s election, 2020).  The LRLS has also maintained that Lithuania should develop an online voting system, lower the age of parliamentary candidacy to 21, work towards a greener environment, and protect women’s reproductive rights, while the LP has focused on establishing a more business friendly environment in Lithuania (Lithuania’s election, 2020)

After just two weeks of negotiations, the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christina Democrats (TS-LKD), Liberal Movement (LRLS), and Freedom Party (LR), announced on November 9th that they were prepared to sign a coalition agreement (Lithuania’s liberal, 2020).  While the three parties were not able to reach a consensus on all of the issues that were brought to the table, they managed to agree upon a number of measures.  These items included the future government’s main goals, recommending Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen (LRLS) for the role of Speaker of the Seimas, and advancing Ingrida Šimonytė’s candidacy for prime minister (Lithuania’s liberal parties, 2020).  Furthermore, Bloomberg (2020) reported that Šimonytė was working to distribute half of the government’s ministerial posts to women, in an effort to counter the former government’s all male cabinet and to make women more visible in Lithuanian politics (Seputyte).  The TS-LKD acknowledged the LRLS and LP’s commitment to addressing human rights issues in Lithuania and plans to approach these topics in due time, provided their sensitivity amongst certain sectors of the Lithuanian population (Lithuanian conservatives, 2020).  In line with Lithuania’s policies, the leaders of the three parties, Gabrielius Landsbergis (TS-LKD), Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen (LRLS), and Aušrinė Armonaitė (LP) gathered together to sign the agreement, thus granting them 74 of the 141 seats in the Seimas (Lithuania’s liberal parties, 2020)

On Friday, November 13th, the newly elected government held its first parliamentary session.  This meeting allowed for the outgoing Farmers and Greens’ government (LVŽS) to hand over its political powers to the new TS-LKD led government, as is required by Lithuanian law (Lithuania’s new, 2020).  Upon being sworn in, Lithuania’s new government elected Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen (LRLS) as Speaker of the Seimas, setting the TS-LKD coalition on the path towards becoming Lithuania’s first female-led government (Former chess, 2020)

Ingrida Šimonytė, the TS-LKD’s candidate for prime minister, submitted a list of candidates to President Nausėda that she planned to nominate for the government’s fourteen ministerial posts (Lithuania’s would-be, 2020).  On Wednesday, November 18th Šimonytė announced that she intended to assign two posts to the LRLS and three posts to the LP, as declared in the center-right’s coalition agreement (Lithuania’s liberal parties, 2020).  Šimonytė allocated the remaining posts to the center-right coalition’s major party, the TS-LKD (Lithuania’s would-be, 2020).

The incoming center-right government faced a serious crisis following Šimonytė’s session with President Nausėda, when several members of the Liberal Movement (LRLS) announced that they had tested positive for the Coronavirus.  On Thursday, November 19th the Speaker of the Seimas, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, stated that she was amongst those who had been infected (Lithuanian parliament, 2020).  While parliaments around the world have agreed to work remotely in order to stem the spread of the Coronavirus, Lithuanian MPs rejected this idea in both April and November parliamentary votes (Lithuanian MPs, 2020; Andrukaitytė, 2020).  This has led members of the Seimas to continue attending meetings, regardless of the fact that their colleagues have fallen ill or been exposed to the Coronavirus (Lithuanian parliament, 2020; Andrukaitytė, 2020)

According to Reuter’s correspondent, Andrius Sytas (2020), the Lithuanian Seimas declared that it would take a week-long pause on Monday, November 23rd, despite its members’ firm resistance.  The Speaker of the Seimas stated that this kind of measure was needed to stop the kind of contagion that could be found in the Seimas’ close quarters (Sytas, 2020).

While the TS-LKD led coalition has been confronted with the difficulty of navigating the political sphere during the Coronavirus pandemic, Šimonytė received the number of Seimas votes that were needed for her to be officially named as prime minister (Skėrytė, 2020).  On November 24th, members of the Seimas were tasked with voting on Šimonytė’s candidacy, which resulted in 62 votes for, 10 against, and 41 abstentions (Skėrytė, 2020). Šimonytė was backed by members of the TS-LKD coalition but faced opposition from the Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS) and the Social Democrats (LSDP) (Skėrytė, 2020).  On November 25th, President Nausėda confirmed Šimonytė as prime minister of Lithuania.

Willa Davis is a contributing writer at the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), where she covers the history, economics, and politics of the Baltic states.


1169 new coronavirus cases. (2020, November 24). DELFI EN. https://en.delfi.lt/politics/1169-new-coronavirus-cases.d?id=85814985

Andrukaitytė, M. (2020, November 24). Despite Covid-19 outbreak at parliament, Lithuanian MPs vote against remote work. LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1284141/despite-covid-19-outbreak-at-parliament-lithuanian-mps-vote-against-remote-work

Former chess grandmaster Čmilytė-Nielsen elected Lithuanian parliament speaker. (2020, November 16). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1277045/former-chess-grandmaster-cmilyte-nielsen-elected-lithuanian-parliament-speaker

Lithuanian conservatives and liberals finalise tentative coalition agreement. (2020, November 6). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1270508/lithuanian-conservatives-and-liberals-finalise-tentative-coalition-agreement

Lithuania’s election winners start coalition talks. (2020, October 29). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1264235/lithuania-s-election-winners-start-coalition-talks

Lithuania’s liberal and conservative parties sign coalition agreement. (2020, November 9). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1272062/lithuania-s-liberal-and-conservative-parties-sign-coalition-agreement

Lithuania’s liberal parties to receive five ministries under coalition deal. (2020, November 11). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1273780/lithuania-s-liberal-parties-to-receive-five-ministries-under-coalition-deal

Lithuanian MPs decide they will not work from home. (2020, April 1). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1157112/lithuanian-mps-decide-they-will-not-work-from-home

Lithuania’s new parliament to be sworn in, government to return powers. (2020, November 13). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1275575/lithuania-s-new-parliament-to-be-sworn-in-government-to-return-powers

Lithuanian parliament to continue meetings despite outbreak among MPs. (2020, November 20). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1281299/lithuanian-parliament-to-continue-meetings-despite-outbreak-among-mps

Lithuanian president appoints Šimonyte as prime minister. (2020, November 25). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1284643/lithuanian-president-appoints-simonyte-as-prime-minister

Lithuanian president presents his demands for would-be government. (2020, October 28). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1263457/lithuanian-president-presents-his-demands-for-would-be-government

Lithuania’s would-be PM presents cabinet candidates. (2020, November 18). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1279294/lithuania-s-would-be-pm-presents-cabinet-candidates

PM candidate discusses Lithuania’s coronavirus effort: ‘Communication should be different’. (2020, November 5). LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1270094/pm-candidate-discusses-lithuania-s-coronavirus-effort-communication-should-be-different

Seputyte, M. (2020, November 18). Lithuania Seeks Gender-Balanced Cabinet After All-Male Lineup. Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-18/after-all-male-lineup-lithuania-seeks-gender-balanced-cabinet

Skėrytė, J. (2020, November 24). Lithuanian parliament approves Šimonytė as prime minister. LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1283714/lithuanian-parliament-approves-simonyte-as-prime-minister

Sytas, A. (2020, November 23). Lithuanian parliament sets week-long recess as COVID-19 cases spike. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-lithuania/lithuanian-parliament-sets-week-long-recess-as-covid-19-cases-spike-idUSL8N2I92SL

Šuliokas, J. (2020, September 21). Who’s who in Lithuania’s 2020 parliamentary election – explainer. LRT. https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1232763/who-s-who-in-lithuania-s-2020-parliamentary-election-explainer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *