The new Labour Code passed by the Seimas has not been well received by voters. Based on a poll by public opinion and market research company Vilmorus more than half of the respondents viewed the new Labour Code negatively. The negative perception of the code was found across the electorates of almost all parties, albeit less so among Social Democrat (LSDP) and Polish Electoral Action voters.
Voting in the Seimas
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

As head of Vilmorus Vladas Gaidys points out, based on July data the new Labour Code was viewed particularly negatively. The Labour Code which the Seimas passed on June 21, 2016 was described as lacking social empathy by the President Dalia Grybauskaitė, who vetoed it, urging a review and offering amendments. Nevertheless the Seimas recently overruled the President’s veto, albeit some of the amendments are now being discussed in Seimas.

Only 1.4% of respondents viewed the Labour Code positively and 2.7% somewhat positively. 50.7% of respondents viewed it negatively and 14.2% somewhat negatively. Another 30.9% were unsure. While all age groups viewed the code mostly negatively with many age groups posting around 70% disapproval rates, the age group of 40-49 were the most against the new code, meanwhile the oldest group of 70 and over were the most inclined to reserve judgement and indicate they were unsure for now.

Based on political leanings, it was unsurprisingly Social Democrat voters who were the most positive about the new Labour Code, given the Social Democrat leader and PM Algirdas Butkevičius’ strong support for it. That said, despite his efforts, even among Social Democrat voters, support did not even reach 10%, landing at 9.1%, with 52.4% viewing it negatively. The most negative reaction to the Labour Code stemmed from voters of fellow coalition party Order and Justice with 78.9% disapproval rates.

Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU TSPMI) lecturer Tomas Janeliūnas sees the situation with the Labour Code as a major dilemma for the Social Democrats. On one hand it has been one of the major projects the LSDP, on the other hand it is wildly unpopular among the voters. The party can thus only do its best to not showcase the code when interacting with voters, but that comes with a problem of its own. “They won’t hurry to brag or celebrate the Labour Code when interacting directly with voters when they feel such negative moods. This means that they no longer have any major achievements from this term however,” Janeliūnas observed. “In this case the Social Democrats look like they have been in power for a while, but either were doing something they shouldn’t have or incapable of proving they did the right thing.”

Nevertheless the expert noted that it is not clear how much of an impact the Labour Code will have on the upcoming election and it depends on how other parties will use it, particularly the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union and the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

The poll was performed on July 1-10 by Vilmorus. 1005 people were interviewed for it.

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