GEOGRAPHY OF LITHUANIA Location: Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Poland and Latvia Official name: Republic of Lithuania Area: Total: 65,300 sq km Country comparison to the world: 123 Land: 62,680 sq km Water: 2,620 sq km Area: Slightly larger than West Virginia Land boundaries: Total: 1,574 km Border countries: Belarus 680 km, Latvia 576 km, Poland 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad) 227 km Coastline: 90 km
RELIGION IN LITHUANIA The major religion in Lithuania is Christianity; the dominant confession is Roman Catholicism. 2001 census: Lithuania was the last pagan nation in Europe, Roman Catholic: 79% with the Roman Catholic Church gaining recognition only late in the 14th century. Russian Orthodox: 4.1% Almost 80% of the population was Roman Protestant (including Catholic early in the 21st century; there are also smaller groups of Evangelical Lutherans and Lutheran and Evangelical other Protestants, as well as people of other smaller faiths. Christian Baptist): 1.9% Some characteristics of the earliest Lithuanian Other/unspecified: 5.5% pagan religion survive in the countryside, blended with Christianity. None: 9.5% Statistics of the 2005 Eurobarometer, concerning the inquiry of religious or spiritual views, revealed that a plurality (49%) of Lithuanian citizens claimed that “they believe there is a God”; 36% indicated that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life-force” and 12% responded that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life-force”.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH & RUSSIAN ORTHODOXCHURCH, VILNIUS
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: OVERVIEW The Politics of Lithuania functions in a structure of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the PM of Lithuania presides over the government and a system of multiple parties. The government, which is led by the PM, exercises executive power. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the unicameral Seimas (Parliament of Lithuania). Judicial power is vested in judges nominated by the President of Lithuania; it is independent of both executive and legislature power. The judiciary is made up of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal, along with the separate administrative courts. Upon the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania’s approval on October 25, 1992, these powers were set up.
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: GOVERNMENT In Lithuania, government consists of three branches initially visualized by enlightenment philosopher Baron de Montesquieu: executive, legislative, and judicial. All three branches are separate; they are set up so every one branch can execute checks and balances on the other two branches.
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: EXECUTIVE BRANCH The Lithuanian government’s executive branch is composed of a President, a PM, and the President’s Council of Ministers; it is accountable to managing the government.
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: PRIME MINISTER The PM of Lithuania, who is nominated by the President and approved by the Seimas, is the country’s head of government. Within 15 days of her/his nomination, the PM is liable for selecting Ministers for the President to approve to all 13 Ministries. On the whole, the PM is responsible for the nation’s concerns, upholds homeland security, conducts laws and declarations of the Seimas and the President’s verdicts, upholds diplomatic relations with foreign countries and international organizations, and carries out other responsibilities, as defined in the Constitution.
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: COUNCIL OF MINISTERS The Council of Ministers, much like the cabinet of other countries, is grouped of 13 Ministers selected by the PM and named by the President. Every Minister is liable for her/his Ministry of Lithuania’s government and needs to present accounts on her/his Ministry when directed to. When the PM resigns or dies in office, the post is to be filled as soon as possible and the new PM will name a new government.
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: CURRENT OFFICE HOLDERSOffice: President Office: Prime Minister Name: Dalia Grybauskaitė Name: Algirdas Butkevičius Party: None Party: Social Democratic Party Since: 12 July 2009 of Lithuania Since: 13 December 2012
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: GOVERNMENT Capital (and largest city): Vilnius Official languages: Lithuanian Demonym: Lithuanian Government: Parliamentary republic President: Dalia Grybauskaitė Prime Minister: Algirdas Butkevičius Seimas Speaker: Vydas Gedvilas Legislature: Seimas
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: LEGISLATIVE BRANCH The parliament (Seimas) has 141 affiliates, elected to a 4-year term. Almost half of the affiliates are elected in single-member districts (71), and the other smaller half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote with proportional representation through party lists. A party needs to obtain 5% of the national vote to gain representation in the Seimas.
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: MAJOR PARTIES Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (Tėvynės sąjunga - Lietuvos krikščionys demokratai, TS-LKD) Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (Lietuvos Socialdemokratų Partija, LSDP) Order and Justice (Tvarka ir teisingumas, TT) Liberal and Centre Union (Liberalų ir Centro Sąjunga, LiCS) Liberal Movement (Liberalų Sąjūdis, LS) Labour Party (Darbo Partija, DP) Christian Party (Krikščionių Partija, KP) Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (Lietuvos Lenkų Rinkimų Akcija, AWPL) Lithuanian Peasant Popular Union (Lietuvos Valstiečių Liaudininkų Sąjunga, LVLS)
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: JUDICIAL BRANCH The judges of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucinis Teismas) for one nine-year term are named by the Seimas from the nominees presented by the President (three judges), the Speaker of the Seimas (three judges), and the chairman of the Supreme Court (three judges).
LITHUANIA’S POLITICAL SYSTEM: ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS Since 1994, with changes in 2000, Lithuania is subdivided into 10 counties (Lithuanian: plural - apskritys, singular – apskritis), all of them named for their main city. Counties are further subdivided into 60 municipalities (Lithuanian: plural – savivaldybės, singular – savivaldybė). Municipalities are further subdivided into more than 500 elderships (Lithuanian: plural - seniūnijos, singular - seniūnija). Countries are governed by apskrities viršininkas (literally translated as “governor”) who is named by Vilnius’ central government. Their chief liability is to make certain that each municipality obeys the laws and Lithuania’s constitution; they do not have significant powers vested in them. Municipality governments are elected in democratic elections of municipality councils, which take place every 4 years. Municipality councils elect municipality mayors; they also name elders to be accountable to an eldership.
DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ Born 1 March 1956 in Vilnius. Current President of Lithuania; was sworn in on 12 July 2009. Was Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance and European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget from 2004-2009. Frequently known as the “Iron Lady” or the “Steel Magnolia”, she is Lithuania’s first female president. Was born to a working-class family; her mother, Vitalija Korsakaitė (1922-1989), was born in the Biržai region where she was a saleswoman and her father, Polikarpas Grybauskas (1928- 2008) worked as an electrician and a driver. Attended Salomėja Nėris High School; has depicted herself as not among the best of students, receiving mainly fours in a system where five was the best grade. Her favourite subjects were History, Geography, and Physics. Began taking part in sports when she was eleven; became a fervent basketball player. Worked for a year at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society as a staff examiner, when she was nineteen. Subsequently enrolled in Saint Petersburg State University (known as Zhdanov University at the time) as a student of political economy; started working in a local factory at the same time. Graduated with a citation in 1983 and returned to Vilnius, where she took a secretarial post at the Academy of Sciences. However, work at the Academy was limited, and she moved to the Vilnius Party High School, lecturing in political economy and global finance. Was an affiliate of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1983-1989, and an affiliate of the Communist Party of Lithuania when the CPL left the CPSU in December 1989 until June 1990. Defended her PhD thesis at Moscow’s Academy of Social Sciences of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (now the Russian Academy of State Service). After Lithuania re-established its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, she continued her studies at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in the Special Pogramme for senior managers.
ALGIRDAS BUTKEVIČIUS Born 19 November 1958 at Paežeriai in the Radviliškis district municipality. 12th and current PM of Lithuania since 13 December 2012. Was previously Minister of Finance from 2004-2005 and Minister of Transport and Communications from 2006-2008. Has been the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania since 2009; has been an affiliate of the SDPL since 1992. Was Chairman of Vilkaviškis Department of the SDPL from 1995-1997, Deputy Chairman of the SDPL from 1999-2005 (was re-elected in 2001), and Chairman of the SDPL since 2009. Was elected to the Seimas in 1996 and 2000. Was the SDPL nominee in the 2009 presidential election, coming in second with 11.83% of the votes. Was among the minority of runners who were elected in the first round of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential election. Was elected by the Seimas to be PM-designate on 22 November 2012; was nominated as PM by presidential decree on 7 December 2012 and his cabinet assumed office on 13 December, which was preceded by the governmental program by Parliament. In addition to his native Lithuanian, he speaks Russian and English. His wife is Janina, with whom he has a daughter, Indrė.
HOMELAND UNION – LITHUANIAN CHRISTIANDEMOCRATS Centre-right political party in Lithuania. Biggest party in Lithuania; has 18,000 affiliates and 46/141 seats in the Seimas. Major centre-right party, with a mainly liberal conservative and Christian democratic, although also nationally leaning and economically liberal, ideology. Currently led by Andrius Kubilius. Affiliate of the European People’s Party (EPP), its European affiliation and EP group, and the International Democrat Union (IDU), its international affiliation. Holds 4/12 seats in the EP and 249/1,526 seats in the Municipal Councils.
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF LITHUANIA Centre-left, social democratic party in Lithuania. Founded in 1896; is the longest existing party in Lithuania. Algirdas Butkevičius, the current PM of Lithuania, is its leader since 2009. Led a minority government in the unicameral Seimas between 2004 and 2008. Affiliate of both Party of European Socialists (European affiliation) and Socialist International (International affiliation). Holds 38/141 seats in the Seimas and 3/12 seats in the EP; also holds 328/1,526 Municipal council seats.