Lithuania center-left seeks president approval for government

Reuters News

11/5/2012 4:11:44 PM - Reuters News

VILNIUS (Reuters) - The center-left winners of Lithuania's election will try again to win the president's backing for their planned government and end a constitutional stalemate, the parties said on Monday.

The Social Democratic Party and its allies won an election that was held over two rounds last month in a vote against years of austerity under a center-right government.

But President Dalia Grybauskaite, a former European Union official in charge of budgets, has said one of the three parties, the Labour Party, was unfit to govern because of allegations of tax evasion and electoral fraud, which the party denies.

Social Democrat leader Algirdas Butkevicius, who expects to be prime minister, said he would meet Grybauskaite on Tuesday and assure her Labour Party officials at the center of the allegations, including its leader, would be denied high office.

"I would like to hear the president's opinion on whether it is possible to search for a compromise by agreeing that certain people who are being prosecuted or who are suspects will not be placed in high positions," he told reporters.

Labour Party leader Viktor Uspaskich is still on trial on charges of tax evasion by his party over the years 2004-2006.

New allegations of vote buying emerged after the October election, angering Grybauskaite.

The new coalition is to command 78 seats in the 141-seat parliament. Butkevicius also said on Monday the parties had agreed on which cabinet positions each would get.

The finance, foreign affairs and defense posts are to go to the Social Democrats.

Grybauskaite has made no public statement since vetoing the coalition. Political commentators have said it was not clear who would win a constitutional battle between the incoming parliament and the president if they cannot find a compromise.

The president has the formal job of naming the prime minister, but parliament votes the government into office.

The Social Democrats, Labour Party and the Order and Justice Party - led by impeached former president Rolandas Paksas - capitalized on voter anger at years of austerity that restored state finances after the 2008 global crash, but led to soaring unemployment and an exodus of people seeking jobs abroad.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas, writing by Patrick Lannin, editing by Michael Roddy)