Farmers now definitely to take up what the voters have most been awaiting

Viktoras Pranckietis, Saulius Skvernelis, Ramūnas Karbauskis
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

The Farmer Greens intend to take up dealing with social questions next political season, which, experts and the opposition say, is what the people are most expecting of them.

“No doubt important works also await in the future. It is normal that you cannot accomplish a four year programme over one Seimas session. This is why in the second session, when it is this cabinet that is forming the budget, there are plans to make decisions in the social sphere – pension increases, second stage pension reform, children’s disbursements, increasing untaxed income size to the level of the minimum monthly wage, wage increases for budgetary institution staff in healthcare, education and culture, greater municipal financial independence, encouraging family home ownership in the regions,” Seimas Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis stated.

During the Saturday party congress in Naisiai, after the party council meeting he declared that he believes the hardest times are past for the party. “Since the main reforms are now accomplished and most of them were unpopular, that period has visibly ended and moving on to the budget we could be more popular,” said V. Pranckietis.

In written responses sent to Delfi, he clarified, explaining that he had reforms in mind for which legislation has already been passed, with much of it, Pranckietis noted, having a large resonance among the public.

“These reforms reflect our electoral programme. It is natural that it was not acceptable for all of society, however it was acceptable for the majority which voted for us and to whom we must keep our word,” V. Pranckietis stated.

He pointed toward the children’s rights protection, public procurement, heating compensation, alcohol control, Labour Code, higher education, road maintenance and forestry as accomplished legislation.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis did not comment the Speaker’s words.

“The Prime Minister will not comment on the Seimas Speaker’s statement. The most important further tasks for the cabinet and the LVŽS group, ranging from reducing social segregation, to improving conditions for forming families, as well as decisions in other spheres that have been discussed in the electoral programme and the government programme plan, will be presented soon,” the PM’s press representative Tomas Beržinskas said.

Opposition does not see any work

Opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats leader Gabrielius Landsbergis does not concede the majority has accomplished any particularly significant tasks.

“Perhaps we did not notice those achievements, I do not know, perhaps they did them elsewhere. What they did in Seimas, one could not call a major achievement – more confusion, chaos and indecisiveness of what they wanted to do,” G. Landsbergis said.

He reminded that from the very start, as soon as the government programme was presented, that he spoke how the majority’s key issue is not a lacking programme, but a lack of strategy, what they want to achieve.

“A newspaper with a print of 300 thousand will not help find it,” G. Landsbergis quipped.

As spheres that need particular attention, he pointed out, based on the European Commission and International Monetary Fund‘s recommendations, higher and primary education, as well as growing inequality, which needs to be resolved, according to him, through tax changes.

Issues in not only communication

Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU TSPMI) professor Tomas Janeliūnas agrees with the Farmer Greens that they have problems in communication, but states that not all their problems stem from just that.

“We should probably focus on two aspects. One aspect is that the government has indeed enacted reforms and certain decisions are fairly decisive compared with the previous government’s. Notable here is the reform of Lietuvos Geležinkeliai and other state owned companies, alongside changes to the Forest Law or the final edition of the Labour Code, beginning higher education reform and such. There are achievements and they could be more objectively outlined, what the current majority has done, but the public or at least most of it do not find these as priorities that they were expecting from the new government,” T. Janeliūnas said.

The political scientist notes a gap between what the majority views as accomplished tasks and what voters view as meaningful achievements.

“What the public expects, first of all, is decisions in the social sphere, to put it generally – social justice,” T. Janeliūnas stated.

According to the expert, various surveys show the same problem – rampant social inequality, people complain most that they do not see improvements in their livelihoods.

“Of course that emotional outrage is clearly strengthened by how the officially stated statistics that inflation is low and wages are growing do not match the practically experienced life because people see the opposite trend,” T. Janeliūnas said.

Voter’s patience declining

Based on a survey commissioned from public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai on 19-26 June, the government’s ratings remain stably low. A month ago, the number of those viewing the government positively or likely positively, compared to April data, decreased by 11.7%.

In May, the government was positively or likely positively viewed by 27% of respondents, with the percentage standing at 27.9% in in June. Respectively, the government was viewed negatively or likely negatively by 55.4% in May and 63% in June. Those who do not know or did not answer decreased from 17.6% to 9.1%.

The Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union’s ratings in the May survey were 19%, while in June this had decreased to 17.8%. Its nearest competitor, the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) rose in the ratings from a popularity of 13.1% in the prior month, to 15.6% in June.

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