The Conservatives will be backing only one candidate for the post of president and if those opposing such a move appear, they will have to raise their candidacies individual with no party support, LRT.lt writes.

This was the position the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats' chairman Gabrielius Landsbergis shared in a live Delfi conference.

His party will offer something novel to the Lithuanian people next year – to elect a candidate that the Conservatives will then back in the presidential elections.

Also spoke with G. Nausėda: the party will only have one candidate

G. Landsbergis admitted he also spoke with economist Gitanas Nausėda regarding the possibility to participate in the presidential elections.

"I meet and speak with numerous people who are brought up in various lists. But I have expressed the stance that I would not dismiss the possibility for the TS-LKD branches to specify him as one of the candidates. It would likely not be peculiar in any way," he said.

According to the Conservative leader, at the same time he can also see possibilities for Žygimantas Pavilionis, Vygaudas Ušackas, Ingrida Šimonytė or Emanuelis Zingeris to become candidates.

"Today I can see and somewhat predict that the party will have a candidate without a doubt. The candidate who will receive support, without compromise," the politician explained.

Criticism toward Ž. Pavilionis

When asked whether this situation does not cause dissonance in the party, with Ž. Pavilionis initiaiting a discussion on G. Nausėda's workplace, G. Landsbergis admitted that someone accurately observed in the public sphere that Ž. Pavilionis has not been in politics for a long time and perhaps failed to cope with the tension, felt the need to move first.

"Truth be told, I have heard a number of negative responses within our party regarding this act. People expect competition, they are interested in hearing the candidates' opinions, statements on various questions, however such nitpicking we expect from our oponents, other parties instead," he admitted.

The Conservative leader explained he truly believes and holds confidence in honourable behaviour, thus he can share the expectation that rules will be upheld in the party.

Management will not campaign

When asked whether the potential candidates' ratings will be considered during discussions, G. Landsbergis emphasised that "the people will consider it."

"It is in the people's hands. Open primaries – even G. Landsbergis, Andrius Kubilius or Vytautas Landsbergis, I believe would struggle to convince people in one move. They form an opinion and sometimes even the ratings themselves form it, but that's just one part of it. We have half a year until the public, not just the TS-LKD will consider and decide, who is most suited to bring Lithuania forward," he explained.

The politician assured that so far he struggles to imagine the possibility for the party management to openly become involved in campaigning for a candidate because it would be against democratic principles.

If going to elections on their own, will not receive party support

When inquired, what would happen if a candidate, who the part management does not wish to support, takes first place, G. Landsbergis quipped that this is a concern no matter what. Say the people elected the "Farmers" and then were left asking themselves half a year later – "What have we done?"

"If we are to go down the path of democracy, it is difficult, filled with concerns and all else. I understand that. However, it is especially important. How many times have we heard that Lithuania lacks civic-mindedness, political thought, that the parties or Seimas... The power and authority where decision-making stems from is not there. The public is the power. The main instruments are in it. Only perhaps the people do not always make use of them," he shared his insights.

When asked what steps will be taken if party members declare their candidacies despite their candidacy not being approved by the party management, G. Landsbergis assured that in such a case the party will clearly indicate the individual is not linked to the party in any way.

"Even if they receive party support, an individual, who enters the presidential elections must halt their party membership, I believe at a fairly early stage. Perhaps I would look negatively at such a process because after all it is a denial of the party and public's will," he said.

One of the principles of democracy, he reminded, is a peaceful handover of authority and conceding to results.

Why was such a decision made?

"The thought occurred when watching processes ongoing in certain Western states. Likely many followed the 2016 elections in the USA where the Republican and Democrat parties sought candidates. Initially it was something like 12 candidates for the Republicans. The candidate, who represented the party received its support and was elected in open primaries," G. Landsbergis reminded.

According to him, it is important to realise that the future president is that of Lithuania, not the party.

"This is why we changed it – the process will start soon – the Lithuanian people will make a statement regarding what president they want," the Conservative leader explained.

Process explained

During the conference, G. Landsbergis also briefly introduced the primaries process itself.

"We will start with party branches nominating candidates, who they believe are worth our support, already this spring. I imagine that the list of such candidates may be lengthy, there could be unexpected and peculiar names... A list of 15-20 individuals, I believe is what will be made.

Then the party management will contact the candidates whether they agree with remaining on the list. Perhaps some will not approve of it that people will discuss them. Such individuals could be removed from the list.

Later on, the final list, which will be coordinated with those people, who agree to remain on it, will be presented to the public. And then the public, after a brief technicality to state to the party that they wish to participate in the primaries, will be able to support a single individual on the list. Same as in the Lithuanian presidential elections over two rounds," the politician explained.