Lithuania

   

Executive Accountability

#28
Key Findings
With several notable weaknesses, Lithuania falls into the lower-middle ranks internationally (rank 28) in the area of executive accountability. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point since 2014.

Citizen policy knowledge is not highly developed, although public-education campaigns and efforts to improve information availability are under way. While the state-funded media produces some high-quality analysis, the media are in general distrusted.

Parliamentarians have considerable resources and strong formal oversight powers. The audit office’s performance has been widely praised, but parliament often ignores its criticism of national budgets. The several ombuds offices have taken an increasingly proactive approach to human-rights violations, but lack broad legal authority.

Ordinary members often have little ability to influence critical political-party decisions. The first direct election of the Social Democratic Party’s chairperson split the party, which is part of the governing coalition. Interest groups generally have limited ability to formulate well-crafted policies.

Citizens’ Participatory Competence

#39

To what extent are citizens informed of government policymaking?

10
 9

Most citizens are well-informed of a broad range of government policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many citizens are well-informed of individual government policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few citizens are well-informed of government policies; most citizens have only a rudimental knowledge of policies.
 2
 1

Most citizens are not aware of government policies.
Policy Knowledge
5
Citizens have access to some government information, but the public in large part lacks the civic awareness and policy knowledge that enables an adequate understanding of government policymaking and facilitates participation. In 2011, Transparency International indicated that 44% of citizens surveyed said there was too much information not made publicly available by state and local institutions. Only 34% of the population received information on the activities of municipalities and other local authorities in 2013.
Several initiatives aimed at improving the citizens’ access of information do exist, however. The Public Management Improvement Program is designed to achieve this goal by defining the scope and content of public information to be made accessible, and by centralizing the provision of information about the government’s performance. In addition, the Lithuania 2030 Strategy envisions the implementation of programs devoted to educating responsible citizens. Despite this, Lithuania still faces substantial challenges with regard to increasing its citizens’ participatory capacity. In its review of Lithuania’s open-government programs, the OECD recommended supporting the development of Lithuania’s civil society through capacity-building and collaboration with the activities of the newly established NGO Council, with the ultimate aim of engaging citizens more deeply in government policymaking processes.

Citations:
Reference to the Report of Transparency International: http://transparency.lt/media/filer_public/2013/01/22/informacijos_prieinamumas_lietuvoje.pdf
Reference to the Public Management Improvement Program: http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=418407&p_query=vie%F0ojo%20valdymo%20tobulinimo%20programa&p_tr2=2.
OECD, Public Governance Review Lithuania- Fostering Open and Inclusive Policy Making Key Findings and Recommendations. 2015.

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#12

Do members of parliament have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activity effectively?

10
 9

The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring all government activity effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring a government’s major activities.
 5
 4
 3


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for selectively monitoring some government activities.
 2
 1

The resources provided to the members of parliament are not suited for any effective monitoring of the government.
Parliamentary Resources
9
Members of parliament as a group have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activities in an effective way. They have resources including personal staff; personnel assigned to parliamentary committees, commissions and other structures; and access to the Parliamentary Research Unit. Expenses incurred by calling experts for testimony or consultation can be reimbursed. Despite these resources, political parties are frequently unable to engage in professional parliamentary oversight, in part due to the parliament’s heavy focus on lawmaking. For instance, during its 2012 to 2016 term, the parliament passed more than 2,500 legislative acts. During the spring 2017 session, the parliament adopted 421 legal acts (i.e., about seven legal acts per every sitting), a record for a parliamentary session.

Parties that form a part of governing coalitions are often unwilling to engage in self-monitoring, while opposition parties are frequently incapable of constructive external oversight. Although the parliament does not commission independent research, it can produce internal conclusions or reports, or invite experts to various parliamentary meetings. In addition, the parliament utilizes the results of audit reports produced by the National Audit Office. It is also often the case that members of parliament employ their party colleagues as advisers or assistants on the basis of trust rather than because these individuals have a particular expertise.

Are parliamentary committees able to ask for government documents?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may ask for most or all government documents; they are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are slightly limited; some important documents are not delivered or are delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are considerably limited; most important documents are not delivered or delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not ask for government documents.
Obtaining Documents
9
Members of parliament have the right to obtain information not only from the government itself but also from various government agencies, enterprises and other public-sector organizations. When carrying out their oversight function, parliamentary committees can request information and relevant documents from ministries and other state institutions. These are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame. There are some restrictions concerning the access of information considered to be sensitive for reasons of state security. In addition, information from ongoing pretrial investigations and other investigations cannot be provided if this could harm the investigations.

Are parliamentary committees able to summon ministers for hearings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon ministers. Ministers regularly follow invitations and are obliged to answer questions.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are slightly limited; ministers occasionally refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are considerably limited; ministers frequently refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon ministers.
Summoning Ministers
10
Parliamentary committees are able to summon ministers and the heads of most other state institutions (with the exception of court judges). Invited people, which also attend parliamentary commissions and other groups, typically answer questions posed by the members of the parliament and provide other relevant information. In some cases, vice-ministers or other authorized civil servants can serve as substitutes for ministers. However, rather than being used as a forward-looking mechanism, this instrument of parliamentary control is often restricted to the explanation of government activities on an ex-post basis.

Are parliamentary committees able to summon experts for committee meetings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon experts.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are considerably limited.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon experts.
Summoning Experts
9
When considering draft legislation, parliamentary committees can receive and consider comments from experts. Committees can also invite experts to participate in special hearings focusing on draft legislation, or engaging in a parliamentary oversight function. Committees can establish preparatory working groups whose membership can involve experts or scientists. The extent to which experts are involved in the activities of parliamentary committees varies by specific committee and policy issue.

Are the task areas and structures of parliamentary committees suited to monitor ministries effectively?

10
 9

The match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are well-suited to the effective monitoring of ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are largely suited to the monitoring ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are partially suited to the monitoring of ministries.
 2
 1

The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are not at all suited to the monitoring of ministries.
Task Area Congruence
8
There is extensive congruence between the current structure of 15 parliamentary committees and the primary areas of competence of Lithuania’s 14 ministries. The recent establishment of a cultural committee and the abolishment of a committee on information further increased congruence between the parliamentary committees and government ministries. However, there are a few mismatches. On the one hand, some ministries (Economy, Transport and Communications) and other state institutions are monitored by a single Economics committee. On the other hand, there are several horizontal parliamentary committees (including the committees on Audit, European Affairs, and Human Rights). The parliament also has several standing commissions, some of which are related to policy areas assigned to the Lithuanian ministries (especially the energy commission, the most active of these bodies). Thus, the composition of parliamentary committees allows government policy to be monitored on both a sectoral and horizontal basis.

Committees meet on a regular basis, but the bulk of committee activities are related to the consideration of draft legislation. The workload of individual committees in the legislative process varies substantially, with the committees on legal affairs, state administration and local authorities, social affairs and labor, and budget and finance accounting for about 55% of the legislative review work delegated to the committees. The amount of attention given to exercise of the parliamentary oversight function depends on the particular committee.

Citations:
Alvidas Lukošaitis, “Parlamentinės kontrolės įgyvendinimas Lietuvoje: metodologinės pastabos apie trūkinėjančią “šeiminko-samdinio grandinę”//Politologija. 2007, nr. 2

To what extent is the audit office accountable to the parliament?

10
 9

The audit office is accountable to the parliament exclusively.
 8
 7
 6


The audit office is accountable primarily to the parliament.
 5
 4
 3


The audit office is not accountable to the parliament, but has to report regularly to the parliament.
 2
 1

The audit office is governed by the executive.
Audit Office
7
The National Audit Office is accountable to the parliament and the president. The auditor general is appointed by the parliament based on a nomination by the president. The parliament’s Committee on Audit considers financial-, compliance- and performance-audit reports submitted by the office, and prepares draft parliamentary decisions relating to the implementation of audit recommendations. The office also cooperates with other parliamentary committees. The leaders of the parliamentary Committee on Audit at one time used audit reports for political purposes, especially after an opposition-party member was appointed to head it. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the National Audit Office criticized the government’s draft budgets for their lack of compliance with fiscal-discipline provisions and poor allocation of government expenditure. However, these criticisms were largely ignored by members of parliament or ministerial officials. The National Audit Office was ranked as the best state institution in 2016 due to the representation of state interests, competence and exceptional performance by the Lithuanian journal Veidas.

Does the parliament have an ombuds office?

10
 9

The parliament has an effective ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


The parliament has an ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The parliament has an ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

The parliament does not have an ombuds office.
Ombuds Office
8
The parliament has several ombuds offices, including the general ombudsmen’s office, with two appointed ombudspersons, and the special ombudsman’s offices on Equal Opportunities and Children’s Rights. These institutions supervise state institutions, with a particular focus citizens’ human rights and freedoms. They engage in public advocacy on behalf of citizens, and initiate certain actions, but as a group the ombuds offices lack sufficient legal authority to act as a single national institution for human rights. However, new draft legislation regarding the parliamentary ombudsmen was under discussion in the parliament at the time of writing. The effectiveness of these ombuds offices has depended on the interplay of several factors. First, citizens have shown at best mixed interest in pursuing complaints through these offices, although the number of complaints has been increasing in recent years (the largest number of complaints was registered in 2013). Second, the offices adopted a more proactive attitude toward investigations, focusing on the most significant violations of human rights (e.g., in prisons and other detention facilities). Third, state and municipal institutions are still occasionally unwilling to implement the offices’ recommendations.

Media

#32

To what extent do media provide substantive in-depth information on decision-making by the government?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. The rest produces a mix of infotainment and quality information content.
 5
 4
 3


A clear minority of mass media brands focuses on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. Several mass media brands produce superficial infotainment content only.
 2
 1

All mass media brands are dominated by superficial infotainment content.
Media Reporting
5
A minority of mass-media organizations, whether TV, radio, print or online, provide high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. Since it is quite expensive to provide high-quality analysis within Lithuania’s small media market, the state-funded National Radio and Television is in the best position to undertake in-depth analysis of government decisions. Andrius Tapinas, a famous Lithuanian journalist and TV host, launched a weekly political discussion show, which attracted about 4,300 financial supporters and thousands of viewers. Other mass-media brands tend to produce infotainment-style programming. Although the Lithuanian media are regarded as quite independent, they are not widely trusted by the public. Indeed, in September 2017, only 37% of respondents to a national survey said they trusted the media.

Citations:
http://www.vilmorus.lt.

Parties and Interest Associations

#25

How inclusive and open are the major parties in their internal decision-making processes?

10
 9

The party allows all party members and supporters to participate in its decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are open.
 8
 7
 6


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, all party members have the opportunity to participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are rather open.
 5
 4
 3


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, a number of elected delegates participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are largely controlled by the party leadership.
 2
 1

A number of party leaders participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Democracy
7
Lithuanian parties usually restrict decision-making to party members. Although in many cases, all party members can participate in important decisions, their capacity to influence the most critical party decisions is insufficient. Some political parties are more democratically structured than others: in 2007, the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Christian Democrats and the Homeland Union were found to be the most democratic in terms of internal decision-making. The latter two parties have since merged to form a party whose leader is directly elected by all party members. In 2017, members of the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania directly elected the party’s chair for the first time in the party’s history. Gintautas Paluckas, the young deputy mayor of Vilnius, won the party election and started the process of renewing the party elite. Between 2001 and 2015, the party was dominated by members over the age of 50. As a result of Paluckas’ victory, the party leadership decided to split from the ruling coalition led by the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union. Though most of the party’s members of parliament continued to support the Skvernelis government.

Some other political parties are primarily used as a platform for their leaders to express their own political interests. Following the success of non-party candidates in the 2015 municipal elections, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union brought together a group of non-party candidates for the 2016 parliamentary elections. Many of these candidates, campaigning as a movement rather than a political party, won against candidates of established political parties. Many of Prime Minister Skvernelis’ parliamentary faction and government ministers are not party members.

Citations:
G. Žvaliauskas, Ar partijos Lietuvoje yra demokratiškos? Technologija, Kaunas, 2007.
G. Žvaliauskas, Lietuvos socialdemokratų partijos elito kaita 2001–2015 m. laikotarpiu, Viešoji politika ir administravimas, 2017, T. 16, Nr. 1, p. 52-67.

To what extent are economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Business)
5
Most Lithuanian interest associations, including employers’ associations and trade unions, have a rather limited ability to formulate well-crafted policies. They typically lack skilled research staff, and do not engage in cooperation with academic bodies or individual experts. The Investors’ Forum, which represents foreign investors in Lithuania, is one of the exceptions, as it has regular annual meetings with the government and provides policy recommendations based on its members’ input. This association successfully advocated the adoption of a more flexible labor code as part of the new “social model.” The Infobalt IT-industry association is also actively engaged in representing its interests in the e-governance policy area. Some economic-interest organizations, including the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (which is represented on the Tripartite Council and the European Economic and Social Committee), have improved their policy-formulation capacities. Some business associations and even individual businesses support think tanks. In 2016, the University of Pennsylvania recognized the Lithuanian Free Market Institute as being among the most influential public policy centers in Central and Eastern Europe, and ranked it 12 in the region. An accord signed by the government, business organizations and trade unions in October 2017, encourages employee participation in trade unions and the formation of business associations, and supports the capacity-building efforts of social partners.

Citations:
University of Pennsylvania. “2016 Global Go To Think Tanks.” https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=think_tanks

To what extent are non-economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Others)
5
The capacity of nonacademic interest associations to formulate well-crafted and relevant policy proposals varies by group. Most lack skilled staff members and do not engage in cooperation with academic bodies or individual experts. Moreover, the lawmaking and regulatory impact assessment processes do not sufficiently ensure the participation of relevant stakeholders. Business interest groups tend to have stronger abilities to formulate policies than do social or environmental groups. The Lithuanian Catholic Church is an important player in Lithuanian politics, with its influence typically focused on a small number of policy issues. However, this interest group unsuccessfully lobbied the president to veto legislation designed to make it easier for families to access assisted insemination services. The Non-Governmental Organizations’ Information and Support Center facilitates cooperation between NGOs as they seek to represent their interests.
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