Corruption scandals hit government and prime minister’s ratings

Algirdas Butkevičius
DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

In a survey conducted on February 9-17, 41% of respondents said they trusted the government, while 56% said they did not, ELTA reports. This represents a 10-point drop from January, when 51% of people surveyed by the pollster Baltijos Tyrimai trusted the government and 46% did not.

The drop in ratings is likely an effect of recent corruption suspicions that affected several cabinet members.

Environment Minister Kęstutis Trečiokas has been questioned as a special witness in an investigation into alleged illegal construction in Druskininkai.

Healthcare Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė resigned after revealing a decade-old incident of offering a cash gift to a doctor. She has also been questioned in a corruption investigation in a Šiauliai hospital.

The Ministry of Agriculture is also under investigation for suspected corruption in its food-for-poor programme.

“All these scandals have doubtlessly contributed to the drop in ratings of the government, of the prime minister personally, and of his Social Democratic Party. We have had a whole series of scandals that directly relate to the Social Democrats, the party’s politicians, and that directly affects perceptions of people who hear about these scandals,” Dr. Andrius Šuminas of Vilnius University’s Communication Faculty told ELTA.

Prime Minister Butkevičius’ ratings fell 7 points in February, compared to January, and his party, the Social Democrats, suffered a 5-point drop. While 26% of respondents said they would vote for the party in January, only 21% said so in the last survey.

Minister of the Interior Saulius Skvernelis is the only politician who saw his popularity rise, by 4 points, over the last month. Although he is not affiliated with any party, Skvernelis is rumoured to throw his lot with the Social Democrats in the upcoming general elections this October.

Despite the drop, the Social Democrats remain the most popular party in the country. The Liberal Movement is second, with 14%, the Labour Party is third with 10% and the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats is supported by 8%.

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