Lithuania Presidential elections will be in 2019 but the candidates are still unclear: politicians are waiting, assessing their abilities, and considering possibilities. It’s clear that Dalia Grybauskaitė, who had two terms, won’t be running again.
Public opinion and market research company „Sprinter research” on the order of DELFI conducted a public survey, in which the residents were asked who they would vote for if the Presidential election will be right away.
According to the survey, the majority of the population would like for the current Prime Minister (PM) Saulius Skvernelis to be the President. 19.2 per cent of the respondents would vote for him.
S. Skvernelis stands out from other potential candidates in popularity.
The PM hasn’t made his position clear on whether intends to go for the office of President, and behaves ambiguously. This traditional behaviour of politicians because most the worst strategy is too early admitting about participating in the elections, this way the person becomes a target of criticism, and the popularity might decrease.
The second group of potential presidential candidates is out of politicians and public figures, who received roughly 5-7 per cent of support.
Among those are:
the Chairman of Farmers and Greens Union Ramūnas Karbauskis (6.8 per cent.),
the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats MP Ingrida Šimonytė (6.8 per cent.),
the assistant to the Vice-President of the Social Democrats Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (6.6 per cent .), economist Gitanas Nausėda (5.8 per cent.),
the European Commission Envoy to Russia, and Conservative Vygaudas Ušackas (5.5 per cent.).
R. Karbauskis right after the Parliament elections said that he won’t run for President but sometimes politicians change their mind. According to unofficial data, when he was young, R. Karbauskis mention aspirations to be a future President.
Third group are people, whose popularity is roughly 1-4 per cent. 3.9 percent would vote for the MEP (Member of the European parliament) Antanas Guoga, for journalist Andrius Tapinas 3.1 per cent, the Liberal Movement Leader Remigijus Šimašius would get 3 per cent, and former Social Democratic leader Algirdas Butkevičius would get 2.6 per cent votes.
The Conservative Žygimantas Pavilionis is even less popular – 2.4 per cent would vote for him, while for the Liberal Petras Auštrevičius – 1.6 per cent.
Even as much as 32.6 per cent of the residents didn’t know who they would vote for.
R. Vanagaitė: the president must be a different person than S. Skvernelis
Rūta Vanagaitė, who is a Public Relations Specialist and writer, said that she hopes that the PM S. Skvernelis won’t try to become the President because our country needs a different leader.
“I think that the President should be a person with foreign policy and economy experience, rather than only in the policy structures. It’s not enough to be nice. Foreign policy experience and negotiation skills mean a lot to a leader of a small state. I think that Lithuanian President right now should be a peaceful person” said R. Vanagaitė.
She says that her candidate for the President would be the Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius.
According to R. Vanagaite, the main drawbacks for S. Skvernelis are the lack of experience and poor skills of the English language.
“The smaller the country, the better President it needs” she said.
When she was asked if R. Karbauskis might change his mind and still join the Presidential election, R. Vanagaitė disagreed: “I think he is making too many mistakes. He has no experience, he’s not careful, and not enough wisdom to be a President. “
Is it possible if the Prime Minister S. Skvernelis decided to run for office, he would have a strong competitor? R. Vanagaitė states that it’s possible: the most important thing is to create a clear election strategy, have at least half of the year and have the support of the party or media.
“There’s still a lot of time before the elections, I also think that S. Skvernelis is smart enough and won’t go where he lacks knowledge” said R. Vanagaitė, emphasising that Presidential duties are not designed to fill in gaps in work expertise.
When she was asked how she evaluates the possibilities of I. Šimonytė if goes for the President, she said that the possibilities are good because she is an educated and intelligent politician.
“Women are more intelligent in general, especially those who don’t wasted time with kids and took the time to get a good education. These women can become a good President. Of course, if you don’t get on the high horse” said she.
A. Katauskas: S. Skvernelis position is strange
Is it difficult to become the President when it’s a transfer from the post of PM? R. Vanagaitė thinks that the best person is the one, who goes against the system, because the Lithuanian society is strongly disappointed and tired, and is looking for a person, who convince that from now everything will be better.
D. Grybauskaitė behaves in a similar manner, who participated in the elections in 2009 and criticized Gediminas Kirkilas Government.
“In this case, it may be a regular person” she said.
The PM, if he decides to participate in the elections, won’t be able to go against the system and criticize himself or his Minister cabinet, although R. Vanagaitė won’t rule out this possibility. According to R. Vanagaitė, a candidate has to talk about the future, and not look back.
Arijus Katauskas, a public relations specialist, thinks that being a candidate from the ruling position is not a good start. He remembered the 2014 Presidential election when D. Grybauskaite had been challenged by Social Democrat Zigmantas Balčytis: the respondent thinks that then he looked toothless because he was unable to criticize the Social Democratic Government.
“It’s easier if you have something to criticize” said A. Katauskas.
“If we look at the communication messages of Farmers and Greens during the Parliament elections, they also criticized, we clearly saw negative messages: everything criticized what the previous Government didn’t do” continues he.
According to A. Katauskas, a lot is dependent on the political cycle: if the situation is bad, S. Skvernelis opponents will benefit, if it’s bad – the Pm will be able to brag about his acomplishments.
Also, S. Skvernelis situation is partially good: if he decides to participate in the elections, he will be able to use administrative resources, the PM is always featured in the news, and is visible.
“Everything will be decided in the final year” thinks A. Katauskas.
Public opinion and market research company “Sprinter Research” did a public opinion survey in 2017 April 19-26, which was ordered by DELFI.
The study included respondents from 18 to 75 years old. The survey was conducted in the form of standardized interviews.
The study took place in the whole territory of Lithuania, in 65 places in order to represent the whole country. The study had 1005 respondents. The participants of the research are proportionally distributed according to the population of the country.
The research results may have an error of 3.1 per cent.