Experts assessing the latest rankings in Lithuanian politics

The Parliament. DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

After the latest assessments of political parties and politicians, which brought a record for the Social Democrats and a low point for the Conservatives in November, political analysts also had their say, Agnė Liubertaitė says in

However, they claim that the rankings could change shortly and that the political turmoil could lead to a very unexpected distribution of electoral votes.

Will the Social Democratic phenomenon fade away?

As previously reported, the Social Democrats, who have been at the top of the rankings for several years, have gained even more support from the electorate, while people’s trust in the conservatives has dropped significantly.

“A poll by Vilmorus, a public opinion and market research centre commissioned by Lietuvos Rytas, showed that 20.3% of respondents would currently vote for the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), the highest result ever seen for this party.

Saulius Spurga, a political scientist at Mykolas Romeris University (MRU), said that he has not yet found a precise answer to why the Social Democrats in the opposition are so impossible to see on the rating tables. Still, he considered that this reveals one fundamental desire of the society.

“The Social Democrats have little to show for themselves, and their ratings have been relatively high. The rise in ratings began when Vilija Blinkevičiūtė became the leader of the party, and in any case, the population and citizens apparently appreciate that this is a kind of alternative.

Other parties have more or less been in power, and they are already in the memory – it is often the case that parties in power lose popularity, and this calm, unremarkable posture of the Social Democrats impresses people.

And suppose they do not succumb to critical or non-systemic ideas. In that case, people see the LSDP as an alternative, which in any case seems to them to be a party that is untainted, uncompromised, and certainly not to be distrusted,” Spurga explained to the portal.

Ainė Ramonaitė, a professor at Vilnius University’s Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU TSPMI), stressed that the Social Democratic Party has already become a phenomenon in Lithuania – it raises its ratings when nothing is happening.

“This is not the first time – there have been situations before previous elections where their ratings remain high, but the results change and worsen when the elections come.

Why does this happen? Because the Social Democrats are a party of the centre. Although they see themselves as left-wing, in the eyes of our population, they are in the centre – they are neither radical nor distinctive, which is why they are such a safe option,” the professor said.

According to Ramonaitė, an undecided person could say that they are voting for the LSDP during the elections, and no one would be offended or horrified. However, the political scientist believes the record of public support for the party could also be deceptive.

 The rise in their ratings may mean that many people still don’t have a clear idea of who they will support and vote for, which is why they choose them. But when the time comes, this will not necessarily be the case”, said the VU TSPMI professor.

The division of sympathies may still be surprising

However, there is less happy news in the camp of the most significant ruling party, the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD). While in September, the Conservatives were still supported by over 11% and in October by around 9% of the electorate, now 8% of the surveyed population would give them their vote.

As sociologist Vladas Gaidys told earlier, this is the lowest result for the TS-LKD since the beginning of this term. According to Ramonaitė, this may already symbolise a particular bottom the conservatives have reached.

“The question is where the bottom is because, as we already know, the Conservative Party has a base of loyal voters who, no matter what happens, will still support their party. So, that drop in trust will still bounce back to the most dedicated group, and then it should go nowhere.

By all accounts, the rating is bottoming out. Still, maybe the Conservative electorate is not completely unshakeable because if we think back to 2000, when the Conservatives lost a lot of seats and probably only won 8 seats in the Seimas, sometimes even people with an identity get angry with the party and temporarily turn away.

If something very dramatic were to happen again, the ratings might fall even further, but I would guess that the bottom has more or less been reached,” the professor assessed.

Political analyst Spurga pointed out that friction has started in the government, which will not be to the benefit of the conservatives or other parties.

“A fight is a fight – everybody suffers, there are no winners, and such desperate moves are unlikely to work. Those who are more solid win in this case.

In the end, as the elections approach, a trend may emerge that the population will want change,” said Spurga.

In November, within the margin of error, confidence in the Liberal Movement grew.  Sociologist V. Gaidys suggested that this could reflect conservative voters. However, the Court of Appeal’s decision in the MG Baltic political corruption case and the hefty fine imposed on the Liberal Movement could either shuffle the cards a bit or cause only a slight gust of wind, political analysts say.           

“The question is whether it (the court’s decision) will have long-term consequences. However, there is still some time left before the parliamentary elections, and this story with the Liberal Movement has been going on since 2016.

Their voters drew their conclusions long ago; they both punished and rewarded the Liberal Movement, and the story is back again. It will affect the ratings, but I want to know whether that effect will be lasting.

In this case, in the voters’ opinion, in their decisions, the verdict has already been executed, and life goes on,” Spurga assessed.

According to Ramonaitė, the next few months could be more difficult for the Liberals regarding ratings, but the professor doubts whether the fall could be disastrous.

“Next month’s results are likely to be worse for the Liberals because when there is a scandal, it usually has an impact on either parties or leaders for a few months, and after a while, it fades away and normalises if the scandal doesn’t develop further.

I would say that in the next few months, the rating of the Liberals should rise, but we will see”, Ramonaitė said.

The political scientist from VU TSPMI also pointed out that the political forces not involved in the recent scandals may succeed in the upcoming Seimas elections.

“The Liberal Movement, unlike the Freedom Party, is relatively centrist, and our centrist centre is quite full of different parties. Both the Social Democrats and the party of Saulius Skvernelis can partly target the same electorate, so there could be a shift.

So far, the Liberal Movement has benefited from the Conservatives’ falling rating, but now the scales may be tipping the other way. The only question is how much the TS-LKD can gain from this because it is still a specific party with a particular identity, so it takes work for voters of other parties to come to it.

Especially when people are unhappy with the current majority, if they could still vote for the Liberals, they certainly wouldn’t vote for TS-LKD. I think maybe some other parties will gain more from the Liberals’ losses than the Conservatives,” said Ramonaitė.
You may like

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.