Politics of Lithuania
Executive poweris exercised by the government, which is headed by the Prime Minister. Federal legislative poweris vested in both the governmentand the unicameral Seimas(Lithuanian Parliament). Judicial poweris vested in judges appointed by the President of Lithuaniaand is independent of executive and legislature power. The judiciaryconsists of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appealas well as the separate administrative courts. The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania established these powers upon its approval on October 25, 1992. Being a multi-party system, the government of Lithuania is not dominated by any single political party, rather it consists of numerous parties that must work with each other to form coalition governments.
Since Lithuania declared independence on
March 11, 1990, it kept strong democratic traditions. Drawing from the interwar experiences, politicians made many different proposals that ranged from strong parliamentarism to a presidential republicwith checks and balancessimilar to the United States. Through compromise, a semi-presidential systemwas settled [Lina Kulikauskienė, Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucija (Constitution of Lithuania), Native History, CD, 2002. ISBN 9986-9216-7-8] . In a referendumon October 25, 1992—the first general vote of the people since their declared independence—56.75% of the total number of voters supported the new constitution [ [http://www3.lrs.lt/docs2/QKVXRGNF.DOC Nuo 1991 m. iki šiol paskelbtų referendumų rezultatai (Results from Refrenda 1991-Present)] , Microsoft Word Document, Seimas. Accessed June 4, 2006.] .
All major parties have declared their support for Lithuania's membership in
NATOand the European Union(EU). Lithuania joined NATO on March 29, 2004and joined the EU on May 1, 2004.
Since 1991, Lithuanian voters have shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by
Vytautas Landsbergis, and the (formerly Communist) Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania, led by president Algirdas Brazauskas. During this period, the prime minister was Gediminas Vagnorius. Valdas Adamkushas been the president for most of the time since 1998. His prime minister was Rolandas Paksas, whose government got off to a rocky start and collapsed within seven months. The alternation between left and right was broken in the October 2000 elections when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centristruling coalition with minor partners. President Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union (also known as the Social Liberal party), Artūras Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas. In July 2001, the center-left New Union party forged an alliance with the Social Democratic Party of Lithuaniaand formed a new cabinet under former president Algirdas Brazauskas. On April 11, 2006, Artūras Paulauskas was removed from his position [http://www.vaitasassociates.com/government.htm] and Viktoras Muntianaswas elected Chairman of the Seimas.
The cabinet of Algirdas Brazauskas resigned on 31 May 2006 as President Valdas Adamkus expressed no confidence in two of the Ministers, formerly party colleagues of Brazauskas, over ethical principles. Brazauskas decided not to remain in office as acting Prime Minister, and announced that he was finally retiring from politics. Even so, he led the ruling Social Democratic Party of Lithuania for one more year, until May 19, 2007, when he passed the reins to
Gediminas Kirkilas, the current prime minister.
Government in Lithuania is made up of three branches originally envisioned by enlightenment
philosopherBaron de Montesquieu: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch is separate and is set up to do checks and balanceson each other branch.
The executive branch of the Lithuanian government consists of a President, a Prime Minister, and the President's Council of Ministers. It is in charge of running the government.
The President of Lithuania is the
head of stateof the country, elected directly for a five-year term and can serve maximum of two terms consecutively. The President, with the approval of the Seimas, is first responsible of appointing the Prime Minister. Upon the Prime Minister's nomination, the President also appoints, under the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers (13 ministries), as well as a number of other top civil servants and the judges for all courts. The President also serves as the commander-in-chief, oversees foreign and security policy, addresses political problems of foreign and domestic affairs, proclaims state of emergency, considers the laws adopted by the Seimas, and performs other duties specified in the Constitution [http://neris.mii.lt/homepage/liet1-1.html Lithuanian Home Page ] ] .
Valdas Adamkushas been the head-of-state since July 12, 2004, who followed interim President Artūras Paulauskasafter former President Rolandas Paksaswas impeached in April 2004for leaking classified information. Adamkus had previously served a term as Lithuanian President from 1998to 2003, but lost to Paksas who also ran for President.
Prime Minister of Lithuaniais the head of governmentof the country, appointed by the President and approved by the Seimas. The Prime Minister, within 15 days of being appointed, is responsible for choosing Ministers for the President to approve to each of the 13 Ministries. In general, the Prime Minister is in charge of the affairs of the country, maintains homeland security, carries out laws and resolutions of the Seimas and decrees of the President, maintains diplomatic relations with foreign countries and international organizations, and performs other duties specified in the Constitution.
Council of Ministers
Similar to the cabinet of other nations, the Council of Ministers consists of 13 Ministers chosen by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President. Each Minister is responsible for his or her own Ministry of the Lithuanian government and must give reports on his or her Ministry when directed to [http://www.lrvk.lt/main_en.php?cat=3&d=4002 Lithuania in the European Union - Coordination of European Union Affairs in Lithuania ] ] . The different Lithuanian Ministries are listed below. When the Prime Minister resigns or dies, the position is to be filled as soon as possible and the new leader will appoint a new Government.
Current office holders
July 12, 2004
July 6, 2006
Min. of Agriculture
Kazimira Danutė Prunskienė
July 12, 2006
Min. of Culture
Jonas Jučas| July 12, 2006
Min. of Economy
Vytas Navickas| July 12, 2006
Min. of Education & Science
July 3, 2008
Min. of Environment
January 1, 2008
Min. of Finance
May 16, 2007
Min. of Foreign Affairs
Petras Vaitiekūnas| July 12, 2006
Min. of Health
Rimvydas Turčinskas| July 12, 2006
Min. of the Interior
Raimondas Šukys| July 12, 2006
Min. of Justice
Petras Baguška| July 12, 2006
Min. of National Defense
Juozas Olekas| July 12, 2006
Min. of Social Security & Labour
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė| July 12, 2006
Min. of Transport & Communications
Algirdas Butkevičius| July 12, 2006
The parliament (
Seimas) has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single-member districts (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote using proportional representationby party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.
Political parties and elections
Lithuania has 13 seats in the
13 June 2004
"election results:"seats by party - LDP 5, LSDP 2, TS-LK 2, LLCS 2, VNDS 1, LLDP 1
Ona Juknevičienė(Lithuanian Labour Party)
Arūnas Degutis(Lithuanian Labour Party)
Danutė Budreikaitė(Lithuanian Labour Party)
Jolanta Dičkutė(Lithuanian Labour Party)
Aidas Gedvilas(Lithuanian Labour Party)
Justas Vincas Paleckis(Lithuanian Social Democratic Party)
Aloyzas Sakalas(Lithuanian Social Democratic Party)
Vytautas Landsbergis(Homeland Union/Conservative Party)
Laima Andrikienė(Homeland Union/Conservative Party)
Eugenijus Gentvilas(Liberal and Center Union)
Margarita Starkevičiūtė(Liberal and Center Union)
Gintaras Didžiokas(Union of Farmer's and New Democracy Parties)
Rolandas Pavilionis(Liberal Democratic Party) (deceased on 10 May, 2006)
The judges of the
Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania("Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucinis Teismas") for a single nine year term are appointed by the Seimasfrom the candidates presented by the President (three judges), Chairman of Seimas (three judges) and the chairman of the Supreme Court (three judges).
Since 1994, with modifications in 2000, Lithuania is subdivided into 10 counties (Lithuanian: plural - "apskritys", singular - "apskritis"), each named after their principal city (see:
Counties of Lithuania). Counties are then subdivided into 60 municipalities (Lithuanian: plural - "savivaldybės", singular - "savivaldybė"). Municipalities are further subdivided into over 500 elderships (Lithuanian: plural - "seniūnijos", singular - "seniūnija").
Counties are ruled by "
apskrities viršininkas" (officially translated as "governor") who is appointed by the central government in Vilnius. Their primary duty is to ensure that the municipalities obey the laws and constitution of Lithuania. They do not have great powers vested in them. Municipality governments are elected in democratic elections of municipality councils held every 4 years. Municipality mayors are elected by the municipality councils. Also, municipality councils appoint elders to be in charge of an eldership.
International organization participation
* [http://www.ku.edu/~herron/ Erik Herron's Guide to Politics of East Central Europe and Eurasia]
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