Lithuanians are among the least politically active citizens in Europe, according to new research.
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

In the seventh European Social Survey in April-June in 2015, Lithuanian residents were asked “How interested are you in politics?” Only a quarter of respondents answered that they are very or sufficiently interested in politics.

At the same time, in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland that figure was more than 60% of respondents, who were very or sufficiently interested. Among the 16 European countries surveyed, only in the Czech Republic were citizens less interested in politics, with just 17.7% said to be very or sufficiently interested in politics. Just over 45% of Estonians were interested in politics and 36.6% of people in Poland.

What is preventing more Lithuanian citizens from giving more attention to politics? Firstly, a very sceptical attitude towards the opportunities that the current political system provides to affect those in power and in politics.

On a scale from 0 to 10, Lithuanians were asked to rate the extent to which the political system allows them to influence policies - respondents rated that at 2.54 out of 10. Answering the same question, the situation was even worse in Slovenia where citizens rated their ability to influence policies at 1.88 out of 10. In Estonia, there were similarly poor results with a rating of 2.53 points out of 10.

However, in most of the recent elections in Lithuania, with the exception of the European parliament elections where activity was critically low, political science Professor Algis Krupavičius said voter turnout seemed to have stabilized at around 50%.

When Lithuanians were asked how much politicians care about ordinary citizens on a scale of one to 10, they gave a rating of 2.63, only higher than Poland with 2.15 points and Slovenia with 2.1 points. The highest ratings were in Norway – 5.19, Sweden – 4.86 and Denmark - 4.84 points.

To the European Social Survey question: “Are you satisfied with the way democracy works in Lithuania?” respondents answered by giving 4.42 points, or more than in Slovenia, France and Poland. Moreover, the score was relatively high compared to other countries and has increased compared from a 3.6 rating in 2011.

Similarly, positive assessments of the government's work has increased from 2.8 to 3.96 points in the four years since 2011 and by this variable Lithuania was ahead of Austria, Slovenia, Ireland, France and Poland.

According to Krupavičius, positive assessments of state policies, government, and democracy lead to an assumption of a more politically active society.

The survey was conducted in April – June in 2015, 2,250 respondents were surveyed.

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