True Lithuania

Key politicians of Lithuania

This alphabetic list of best-known Lithuanian politicians provides both reasons why some people admire a particular politician and reasons why others dislike them. Only the most important politicians are listed (party leaders and holders of major posts) and only the best-known achievements and controversies mentioned.

Names colored by party: Socialdemocrats, Homeland Union, Liberal Movement, Labour, Order and Justice, Smaller parties Non-partisan.

Top Lithuanian politicians.

Valdas Adamkus [ex-President] may be too old to stay in top-level politics, but his opinion is always valued by people and media alike. A Lithuanian-American environmentalist who broke the Guinness World Record as somebody who lived the least in the country before becoming its head of state, Adamkus may also hold unofficial Lithuanian record for the time he managed to keep opinion polls about him all-positive.

Vytenis Andriukaitis [Eurocommissioner]. Among the few key older generations Socialdemocrats who weren't members of Communist Party, Andriukaitis regularly serves in "electoral frontlines". However, he had his reputation damaged in several scandals, one involving a bribe. Andriukaitis's actions as Eurocomissioner in allegedly promoting Russian interests at the expense of Lithuanian food industry made opponents to question his loyalties.

Stanislovas Buškevičius [Deputy mayor of Kaunas]. A political promoter of Straight Edge-styled policies (anti-alcohol, pro-healthy lifestyle), Buškevičius had been prominent in the 1990s. Over the time his popularity eroded and his "Young Lithuania" party remained a local phenomenon of Kaunas city.

Audrius Butkevičius [Prime Minister] may lack charisma and change opinions frequently (usually after talking to other key politicians), but this has allowed him to avoid controversies and gain few genuine haters.

Irena Degutienė [MP, ex-Speaker], appointed as Speaker during the global economic downturn, she had a personality needed to tone down major controversies. She kept high popularity even when her party was despised by the majority. However, this means there are little key decisions or proposals actually attributed to her.

Vytautas Gapšys [Deputy Speaker], the second-in-command of the Labour party, is responsible for many fiery critical speeches in parliament. Charismatic to some, populist to others he likely raised the Labour Party's popularity among younger voters (himself born in 1982 Gapšys is young as a major politician). Gapšys has been tried together with Viktor Uspaskich.

Eugenijus Gentvilas [MP]. Among the leaders of Liberal Movement hailing from Klaipėda (where the party is immensely popular) Gentvilas is the former director of Klaipėda port. He promotes laissez-faire ideas.

Loreta Graužinienė [Speaker] represents the position of Labour party in the most important places where Viktor Uspaskich himself could not. She tends to be little-evaluated as a politician on her own, but this also lets her stay out of controversies, making her approvable to political opponents for key posts such as the Speaker where a wider compromise is needed.

Petras Gražulis [MP] served as a human rights advocate and a political prisoner under the Soviet Union occupation. After Soviet breakup, he continued campaigning for oppressed nations elsewhere (e.g. Chechnya). However, he became disillusioned with the popular ideals of modern Western "rights activism", such as LGBT (which he considers to be unnecessary and drawing the attention away from more serious issues). Gražulis is also known for tongue-in-cheek campaigns that effectively established him as an icon (and meme-topic).

Dalia Grybauskaitė [President]. Both loved and criticized for her "personal-emotional approach" to politics, Grybauskaitė garners support from both centre-left and centre-right, leading to best-ever results in presidential elections. She dislikes talking about her past or private life. Numerous researchers took the mission of filling those "holes of knowledge": some of the details of their works are merely juicy (e.g. sexual orientation), yet others explain her and her parents' collaboration with the Soviet regime, stirring controversy. Grybauskaitė is staunchly pro-European; she abandoned her initial "pro-Russian / anti-US" policies after they failed to bring positive answers from Russia.

Ramūnas Karbauskis [Peasant/Green party]. Himself a millionaire farmer, Karbauskis is known for his attempts to change the image of Lithuanian village which is now arguably that of a "poor land of old uneducated drunkards". He sponsored village-themed TV series, musical festival and other ideas. He promotes ethnic culture, including classical farming, the memory of paganism, regional dialects, and a form of environmentalism that favors pristine agricultural landscape. While Karbauskis is both the face and true leader of his Peasant/Green party, he generally prefers staying with his lucrative farms rather than entering top-level politics directly.

Gediminas Kirkilas [Deputy Speaker, ex-Prime Minister] served the final Prime Minister before 2009 crisis of Lithuania. His tenure is emotionally remembered by some as a "final good time before the bust". Others argue that the bust wouldn't have shook Lithuania so violently if not for the heavy spending and taking loans under Kirkilas. Kirkilas's denial of the financial downturn even after it started later became joked about. These events likely caused Socialdemocrats to appoint Audrius Butkevičius as Prime Minister (instead of Kirkilas) after they regained the parliamentary majority.

Andrius Kubilius [Leader of the opposition, ex-Prime Minister]. His tenure as prime minister during the 2009 Financial downturn earned him many local enemies as his name became associated with worsening economic conditions. However, he became prime minister at the beginning of "crisis" and much of the problems were actually left by the previous government and couldn't have been solved quickly; that's why people more knowledgeable in economics (including foreign specialists) tend to view Kubilius in a more positive light. While widely considered a rightist, Kubilius also promoted leftist policies such as introducing real estate tax on expensive properties.

Andrius Kupčinskas [Mayor of Kaunas]. A graduate of political science, he successfully climbed the career ladder to become the mayor of the second-largest city at an age of 32. This is not that common in Lithuania where many top politicians "jumped" from other sectors of society, bringing their popularity with them. Kupčinskas's professional tenure strengthened the Homeland Union locally, although some residents may prefer seeing more improvements in the city as it continues to slide behind Vilnius.

Vytautas Landsbergis [ex-Speaker], "Patriarch of independence", is now retired, but media still seeks his interviews and Homeland Union uses his image in elections. Few politicians in Lithuania have opinions about them divided so much. Landsbergis's ideas may have molded the modern Lithuania as he led the Sąjūdis pro-independence movement and then defining Lithuania's goals for ever-increasing European Union integration even if that meant going against some Sąjūdis-era allies (see Romualdas Ozolas). Landsbergis receives most of the criticism for his handling of the early post-independence economy, although it is disputed how much of the period's troubles could have been avoided. Being among the top critics of Russian/Soviet imperialism Landsbergis is also unpopular among Russians.

Romualdas Ozolas [Center party] is an ethnic Latvian philosopher Signatory of Lithuanian declaration of independence. He is part of a band of Signatories who, initially staunchly pro-Western, eventually grew disillusioned by the modern West and "unnecessary" further European integration, supporting more sovereignty instead. However, as Landsbergis's integrationist line prevailed among Lithuanian establishment, Ozolas was sidelined from top politics, his party now effectively reduced to regional importance.

Rolandas Paksas [MEP, ex-President], (in)famous as the first European head of state to be successfully impeached (in 2004) he remained a strong "alternative" in Lithuanian politics, claiming that he was dislodged by a political conspiracy. Emphatic Paksas's resignation as prime minister protesting key political decisions gained him a reputation of somebody daring to "act against the corrupt mainstream" among his supporters, yet detractors have accused Paksas himself of illegal obligations to sponsors (or even to Russia), leading to his impeachment. As the Constitutional Court has banned Rolandas Paksas for life from most elections (something that even a Paksas-favoring European Court of Human Rights decision was unable to change) he now sits in European Parliament, participating in Lithuanian politics through key allies.

Julius Panka [Tautininkai party]. In a nation where Euroskepticism is still "politically incorrect", Julius Panka is arguably the most famous pro-sovereignty politician. He sees further European integration as unneeded and endangering the culture of smaller nations (such as Lithuanians) as it encourages migration, the prevalence of English and unnecessary all-Union laws. However, Panka supports closer cooperation with culturally similar nations, primarily Latvia.

Artūras Paulauskas. Catapulted into fame as the general prosecutor "who brought mafia to justice" in the 1990s, Paulauskas then became one of those Lithuanian "star-politicians" who cause significant numbers of people to vote for them regardless of what party they are in and what allies they choose. While supporters saw him as a young hope for reforms, detractors believed him to be an unrefined populist. Paulauskas eventually failed to win any significant elections, although he was among the top contenders in many. Paulauskas's party folded, but his still-famous name allowed to gain key position within Labour party.

Naglis Puteikis [Lithuanian List party] became famous for his campaigns against developments in Lithuanian seaside. To supporters, he is among the few genuine defenders of heritage and nature, to detractors he is a Don Quixote-esque character who opposes advancement without providing good alternatives. After his semi-successful presidential bid (2014) Puteikis gathered a team of people critical of current Lithuanian political establishment after him.

Remigijus Šimašius [MP]. Much of his (un)popularity dates to his 4 years tenure as minister of justice, which was signified both by modernization reforms and allegations of mishandling important long-term cases (such as "giving in to lobbying effort" and paying over 100 million to US-dominated Jewish organization for Soviet-nationalized Jewish religious properties, while such compensations were not available to any other ethnoreligious minority nor to the local Jewish religious communities). Like the whole Liberal Movement Šimašius is an advocate of a laissez-faire approach.

Valdemar Tomaševski [MEP, Poles' Electoral Action party]. The best-known Polish politician of Lithuania, Tomaševski has slowly-but-surely consolidated support over the past two decades: firstly among Poles and then among other minorities. He is best known for supporting minority language rights and campaigning against abortions. Controversies include his stance towards the Soviet Union, which he thinks had "a positive side" in addition to its failed cultural (e.g. atheist) policies. However, Tomaševski stayed out of corruption/cronyism-related controversies leading to a belief among supporters that he is likely among the most honest politicians of Lithuania. A Roman Catholic, Tomaševski is also the only key Lithuanian politician to regularly mention God in his speeches.

Viktor Uspaskich [MEP]. An ethnically Russian millionaire who has an image of "average Joe" (i.e. somebody who laughs at the same jokes and has the same flaws as the majority of Lithuanians). The intellectuals are less likely to support Uspaskich: some see him as an "uncultured nouveau-riche", others question whether he is loyal to Lithuania or Russia. Uspaskich has his own personal party (Labour) which has been charged by authorities for accountancy fraud (allegations which Uspaskich's supporters claim are fabricated by the conventional parties to dislodge him from politics).

Artūras Zuokas [long-time Mayor of Vilnius; Freedom Union party]. On one hand, his unconventional projects (e.g. a municipal airline), quick adoption of new technologies and publicity stunts earned him a reputation of "somebody who works and creates" (which is a compliment in Lithuania as many politicians are popularly believed to be procrastinating). For example, Zuokas even received an Ignobel prize for smashing an illegally parked car with a tank (for a video campaign against traffic violations). On the other hand, Zuokas's non-transparent relations with certain businessmen and corruption charges have decimated his popularity outside Vilnius.

If you think there are important achievements and controversies that have not been mentioned, feel free to do so in comments

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