Ramūnas Karbauskis, Gabrielius Landsbergis and Saulius Skvernelis
© Inga Skrebytė

The two opposing political forces – the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) and the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS) maintain their positions, but in the evaluations of the cabinet, signs of institutional fatigue are beginning to appear.

Based on a public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai September 19-26 survey commissioned by Delfi, the evaluation of the cabinet's work has decreased beyond the 3.1% error margin. This was the only change exceeding the error margin in the evaluation of political parties, public figures' suitability to be prime minister and cabinet activities.

In August, the cabinet's work was positively or likely positively evaluated by 29% of respondents, while in September – 24.6%. Negative or likely negative evaluations made up respectively 63.4% and 68.5, while respectively 7.6% and 6.9% did not know or did not answer.

Spinter Tyrimai head Ignas Zokas was uninclined to overvalue such changes.

"There is a slight shift, but there is certainly no tragedy to be made out here. The changes are not dramatic, furthermore they could swing to the other side," I. Zokas said.

Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU TSPMI) lecturer doc. Dr. Mažvydas Jastramskis recommended to not limit oneself to a single survey's data and to watch for trends prior to making generalisations. This is because the change over one month could simply be coincidental, he explained.

Based on Spinter Tyrimai data, at the start of summer, in June, the cabinet's activities were positively evaluated by 27.7% of respondents, in May – 32.4%, April – 30.7%, March – 33.9% and February – 31.6%.

The political scientist pointed out institutional exhaustion as one of the reasons, why the cabinet's ratings are not rising.

"A number of factors are piling up: people's expectations are large, they cannot be fulfilled over two years, scandals are appearing, problems, ongoing issues. With time passing, there is an erosion of cabinet ratings," M. Jastramskis said.

He did not dismiss that this could be a seasonal phenomenon.

"Summer is a calm period, people take little interest in politics, but with the start of the Seimas session, an active political period resumes, thus naturally, attention is reclaimed, more criticism appears," M. Jastramskis said.

Prime minister's ratings stand stable

The dip in cabinet ratings did not impact Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis' ratings. In September they were 18.4%, while in August – 17.3%.

"People often evaluate individuals based on personal traits, while they expect results from the cabinet as an institution," M. Jastramskis explained.

The ratings of other politicians and public figures based on their suitability to be prime minister also only changed within the error margins.

9.7% of respondents see TS-LKD leader Gabrielius Landsbergis in the office based on September data, 7.4% in August. Economist Gitanas Nausėda – respectively 6.2% and 5%, former Social Democratic Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius – respectively 5% and 6.4%, Farmer Greens leader Ramūnas Karbauskis – respectively 4.9% and 5.2% of respondents.

In September, 4.8% of respondents wanted to see Social Democrat MEP Vilija Blinkevičiūtė as prime minister, while in August – 3.1%, former Conservative Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius – respectively 3.9% and 5.2%, former Minister of Finance Ingrida Šimonytė – respectively 3.5% and 4.1%, Labour Party leader Viktor Uspaskich – respectively 2.2% and 2.9%, MEP Antanas Guoga – respectively 2% and 2.7% of respondents.

Two alternatives atop the parties

As both the head of Spinter Tyrimai and the TSPMI lecturer observed, at the top of the political party ratings, two political powers have established themselves and are seen by voters as alternatives to one another – the TS-LKD and LVŽS. There were no changes here in September, which exceeded the 3.1% error margin.

"All the other parties are far behind the leaders. Perhaps these numbers will shift somewhat by the presidential campaigning, but it is more likely that we will only see something more notable when the Seimas elections draw near," I. Zokas said.

M. Jastramskis does not believe that such a situation is harmful.

"Polarisation is good because it is clear, who is in power and answers for decisions, as well as what the main alternative is. Thus, it is clear that the "Farmers" have to answer for their decisions. The main alternative is the TS-LKD. Su bipolar competition is good for democracy," M. Jastramskis said.

Commissioned by the Delfi news portal, the public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai performed a public opinion survey on September 19-26, 2018. Citizens aged 18 to 75 participated. The survey was performed as a standardised interview.

The survey was performed across Lithuania at a total of 65 surveying points, distributed to represent the country's entire territory. 1011 respondents were interviewed in the duration. The distribution of survey takers is proportionate to the number of residents in the country's regions. The research error margin is 3.1%.

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