Gabrielius Landsbergis and Saulius Skvernelis
Gabrielius Landsbergis and Saulius Skvernelis
© DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

If the Seimas elections were to be held next Sunday, it would likely be the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), who would win in the multi-mandate electoral district. Despite scandals continuing scandals, the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) remain stably second, while political scientists have bad news for the Social Democrats and Liberals.

Based on the newest Spinter Tyrimai survey commissioned by Delfi on February 19-27, the Conservatives' ratings are now around 17.3%.

In second place, with a rating of 15.4%, stands Ramūnas Karbauskis' Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union. In third is Gintautas Paluckas' Social Democrats (8.2%), who are closely followed by the Order and Justice Party (7.7%).

The 5% vote barrier in the multi-mandate district would also be surpassed by the Liberal Movement. The first to fall below this barrier would be Naglis Puteikis' Lithuanian Centre Party (4.7%). Comparing with an analogous survey in December, no party's ratings have shifted more than the error margin.

Conservatives not growing and G. Paluckas should be concerned

According to political scientist Rima Urbonaitė, while at first glance, stability can be seen, long term trends show something different.

For example, based on November data from Spinter Tyrimai, the TS-LKD had ratings of 20.4%. As such we see a 3% decrease, which matches the potential error margin.

"From November I see as if a decline, the Conservatives are no longer growing. Another matter is the Social Democrats. In June they could enjoy ratings of 12.8%, while today they are down to 8.2% - a decline of 4.6%. That is already a fairly significant amount. What is even more interesting is that the Order and Justice Party, which has closed in on the Social Democrats rose from 4.8% in October, to 7.7%, by almost 3%. The trend that Order and Justice is beginning to close in on Gintautas Paluckas' Social Democrats should leave G. Paluckas concerned," Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) Politics and Management lecturer R. Urbonaitė said.

According to the political scientist, the Social Democrats have been unable to climb above 10% ratings for a time now and have been unable to regain the levels they saw last summer. She views this as a result of the Social Democrats' lack of exposure.

R. Urbonaitė doesn't even mention the Liberal Movement which is hovering at just around the 5% barrier.

The political scientist is most interested in the competition between Order and Justice and the Social Democrats, as well as the TS-LKD's ceiling – how long they will keep up their competition with the LVŽS. "That the Farmer Greens retain such ratings while in power is fairly good for them. I believe they are doing fairly well is because of voters being disappointed with all other traditional parties, which surround the "Farmers", to the extent that voters only seek the lesser evil," R. Urbonaitė noted. Furthermore, she observes that the "Farmers" have not experienced any particularly large fiascos either.

Why the "Farmers" step out dry

Public relations agency Agency 1323 partner Artūras Jonkus observes that the numerous controversies such as land purchase or alcohol sale limitations have little influence on the "Farmers" for now.

"Indeed it is a moment where everything that happens in the social sphere has very little impact on "Farmer" voters. Because their electoral base is more in the regions, these are people who participate little in the social sphere, hence the justified criticism stemming from social media has little influence on their ratings," A. Jonkus said.

Meanwhile regarding the Conservatives, A. Jonkus is curious to see, what results we will see in a month, when the losses of the party's young generation – Tadas Langaitis' withdrawal and Mykolas Majauskas' sexual harassment scandal make an impact.

"It could perhaps be the explanation, why there are no significant changes in the ratings so far. There have been no scandals involving the ruling party, which would have rippled through all of the medias, including television and radio. They truly have more influence in Vilnius and perhaps the larger cities, but they influence the province little," A. Jonkus stated.

That scandals had little clear influence on LVŽS ratings also did little to surprise Spinter Tyrimai head Ignas Zokas.

"We never have a dull moment – events and scandals are a daily figment of political life, thus their occurrence may not necessarily shift citizens' political preferences. To say that these scandals will further erode confidence in the government is the same as saying nothing because that's all the series of events and scandals does," I. Zokas commented.

In his opinion, in reality voters do not have a choice between "good" and "bad" parties, which leads to them getting accustomed to a "continuous political evil." Furthermore, voters are not naïve and do not idealise parties and politicians anymore. I. Zokas explains that just the talks of "He steals, but does something for the people" are significant on their own. As such, he says, certain scandals and failures are "already included in the ratings."

G. Landsbergis solidifies influence

A slightly more interesting situation is in terms of who is best suited to be prime minister. Current Prime minister Saulius Skvernelis was specified by 15.3% of voters, Conservative leader Gabrielius Landsbergis – 12.1%, R. Karbauskis – 7.1%.

R. Urbonaitė highlights that the incumbent prime minister's ratings have dropped 12% since summer.

Meanwhile G. Landsbergis' ratings have risen. However the political scientist views this jump with caution and suggests waiting another month to make sure whether it is a trend.

In A. Jonkus' opinion, G. Landsbergis has solidified his position as party chairman. This, he says, is evident from the party ratings as well. "They made their change in their time, it only shook a little due to the withdrawal of the two young members. The question is how it will impact them," A. Jonkus said.

Meanwhile the percentage of those, who view the cabinet's work positively, has remained similar. Positive evaluations come from 2.2% of respondents, more positive from 29.4%. Meanwhile 36.2% gave a more negative evaluation (42.3% in December), 25.5% - a negative evaluation (20.1% in December).

The public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai performed a public opinion survey on commission by the Delfi news portal on February 19-27, 2018. Participants were aged 18 to 75. The survey was held as a standardised interview.

The research was performed across Lithuania at 65 locations distributed to represent the entire country's territory. 1006 respondents were interviewed. The distribution of participants is proportionate to the number of inhabitants in the country's regions.

The research error margin is 3.1%.

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