First polls after ‘Liberal scandal’ show major shake-up in party rankings

Liberal politicians Eligijus Masiulis, Remigijus Šimašius, Linas Kvedaravičius
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Spinter Tyrimai surveyed voters on May 19-26, asking them which party they would vote in general elections.

The Liberal Movement, which is at the centre of the bribery allegations, has seen its ratings plummet, despite a change of leadership in an effort to contain the scandal.

Only 6.6% of respondents in the latest poll supported the liberal party, a dive from 15.5% in April.

If the Liberal Movement used to rank second among Lithuania’s parties before the scandal, it is now lagging behind the Social Democrats, the Peasant and Greens, the Conservatives and the Labour Party and would only make it past the 5% threshold needed to win parliament seats.

“It is a huge fall, one that exceeds any margin of error,” says political scientist Mažvydas Jastramskis. He says that the liberal voter, more likely to be young and better educated, takes transparency and honesty seriously.

The Social Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, remains the most popular party, even though its popularity has been consistently edging down month after month. In the latest poll, 15.5% of the respondents said they would vote for the Social Democrats. The ruling party’s rating was 17.2% in April, 18.8% in March, 19.6% in February and 20.9% in January.

“This is a normal trajectory for a dominant governing party in the run up to elections in Lithuania,” says political scientist Mažvydas Jastramskis. “Not to mention several isolated scandals linked to the social democrats that didn’t add to their popularity and could have hurt them. There is also competition, like the Peasant and Greens, who took some of their potential voters.”

The Peasant and Greens Union’s popularity continues to rise, polling at 11.5% in May, slightly up from 11.3% in April. In January, the party polled at 6.8%.

The conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats has recovered somewhat in May, polling at 9.3%, up from 7.5% in April, but still below its peak of 10.6% in March.

The Order and Justice party polled at 7.6% (8% in April), while the Labour Party’s rating was 7.5% (7.1% in April).

The share of respondents who said they would not vote has increased from 14.1% in April to 16.7% in March. Another 15% said they were not sure which party to vote for, also significantly more than 10.7% in April.

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