A Map of Values: Political Parties in Lithuania (2013)
2013 / 05 / 30
In 2012 the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania endorsed the Lithuanian state progress strategy “Lithuania 2030”. The document outlines the strategic development directions for Lithuania that would help the state to become a “modern, proactive country, open to the world, and cherishing own national identity.” One of the core development directions suggested for the state is the Nordic geopolitical orientation: the declared goal is to become an integral part of the Nordic and the Baltic region, which includes the five Nordic and the three Baltic states. The authors of the strategy also note that the creation of the region would require the assimilation of values between the countries, when “different identities and traditions are recognized, but also the convergence of values is stressed, which is based on the modern values that are inseparable from the successful existence of the welfare state.”
The objective set for Lithuania, to become an integral part of the Nordic-Baltic region, based on common values, seems quite ambitious. So far, the concept of a broader Baltic region has not been clearly defined in the political discourse neither in Lithuania, nor in the neighbouring countries. Whilst analysing the regional identities of the Baltic and Nordic countries, the researchers note that the discourse of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian top-level officials is dominated by the focus on the Baltic sub-region consisting of the three Baltic states, and based on the principles of security, sovereignty and transatlantic integration (contrasted to orientation to Russia). Moreover, the Nordic and the three Baltic countries have a separate history, differing level of economic development, and the quality of democracy, therefore it is rather unrealistic to expect that the societies in these countries might become completely similar in less than twenty years. On the other hand, it seems that a large part of the Lithuanian population would not oppose orientation to the North: the public opinion polls conducted in 2008 revealed that about 40 per cent of the population supports the identification with the Northern Europe.
The study researches the values of the Lithuanian parties with a purpose to identify their similarities to the Nordic value orientation. The study raises three main objectives: 1) finding a way to meaningfully and reasonably measure the similarities of values, 2) identifying the values of Lithuanian political parties and comparing them with the Nordic value orientation, and 3) finding out how many of these ideas are materialized through actual policies.
The research revealed some interesting results – Lithuanian politicians are more “Nordic” than the country’s population as a whole. It seems that the crucial prerequisite for seeking integration into the Nordic-Baltic region, based on common values, actually exists. However, it should be noted that the values and attitudes of parties and politicians differ from one another, while the values declared are not always complied with in practice.