Labor Party elects Uspaskich as leader

Viktor Uspaskich
Foto: DELFI / Rafael Achmedov

Viktor Uspaskich, the founder of the Lithuanian Labor Party, was elected as the party's new chairman at a congress in Kaunas on Sunday.

Uspaskich was supported by 408 party members in an open ballot, while one voted against and two abstained.

The Labor Party was electing the new leader from a single candidate after the party's acting leader Šarūnas Birutis and MP Valentinas Bukauskas withdrew from the race.

"Being the party's leader is nothing new to me (…). I feel like I have to pay my dues to the state – this is what I have in my heart," Uspaskich said in his speech before the ballot.

In the presentation of his program, he said that members of the party who vote for him commit to contributing their efforts to the party's operations that would benefit the state.

"Our party has to offer a program that would give a new breakthrough to the state, a program that would be comprehensible to the whole country," said Uspaskich.

He said that emigration and inequality of income were the key problems Lithuania was faced with, adding that the government should take the responsibility for solving the issues.

Speaking about state defense, he said that defense spending should be kept at the current level of 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), however, saying that Lithuania should seek to become "the center of peace."

Uspaskich said he was convinced the party would rise from the bottom of the opinion polls within a few months to cross the 5-percent threshold to win parliamentary mandates in multi-mandate voting.

Uspaskich founded the Labor Party in 2003 and headed it until 2013 with a short time off.

Lithuanian courts were then hearing the Labor Party's bookkeeping fraud case where Uspaskich was found guilty of bookkeeping fraud.

In 2015, Uspaskich left the party and active politics before returning to the party last year

In the 2016 parliamentary elections, the Labor Party did not cross the 5-percent margin in multi-mandate voting, with merely two candidates elected in single-mandate districts. Of the two MPs, merely one remains in the party, Valentinas Bukauskas.

Source: BNS
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