Lithuanian liberals’ ratings soaring

Eligijus Masiulis ir Remigijus Šimašius
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Based on the survey commissioned by news agency ELTA and carried out on 19-26 March by pollster Baltijos Tyrimai, 67 percent of respondents most favourably assessed former president Valdas Adamkus. President Dalia Grybauskaitė was second (62 percent) and social democratic Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius was third (59 percent). In a month Adamkus’ ratings decreased by 3 and Grybauskaitė’s by 5 percent.

Fourth on the list of the most favourably assessed public figures was Chairman of the Liberal Movement MP Eligijus Masiulis (53 percent), while his party colleague Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius was fifth (51 percent).

Other 9 public figures were evaluated more favourably than negatively. These are: MEP Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, MEP Valentinas Mazuronis, MP Naglis Puteikis, Klaipėda Mayor Vytautas Grubliauskas, Head of the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union Ramunas Karbauskis, economist Aušra Maldeikienė, Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis, MEP Antanas Guoga and Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius.

Sociologists note that after municipal and mayoral elections Advisor to the President of SEB Bank Gitanas Nausėda and Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė have dropped from the list of 25 evaluated and noticeable public figures. Instead, more people mentioned the mayors of three major cities – Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda. This is said to be related with election campaigns and the influence of advertising, television and media on the whole.

Sociologists have also noted that comparing the latest survey results with the survey of January 2015, the ratings of just two leaders of the Liberal Movement improved. 19 percent more respondents favourably valued Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius and 6 percent more Chairman of the Liberal Movement Eligijus Masiulis. Moreover, 13 percent of voters would support the Liberal Movement in elections, by 4 percent more than in the previous poll.

Mažvydas Jastramskis, lecturer at Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science, told ELTA news agency that the Liberal Movement has worked consistently since the last parliamentary election. It identified certain ideas and put forward certain people. The party enjoyed success in the election not only by winning but by coming closer to the conservative party, the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD). The Liberal Movement has clearly entrenched among the top three parties that have the most mandates in municipal councils. The result demonstrates to the public that the Liberal Movement can already have a strong political group and perhaps even participate in forming the Government.

Jastramskis downplayed the talks emerging in Lithuania about the increasing need of liberal policies. The political scientist said that society’s values do not change in a year. According to him, the ratings of Šimašius and Masiulis are related with existence or absence of alternative choices.

For example, the available alternatives among right-wing parties are Vytautas Landsbergis and Andrius Kubilius, two of the most prominent leaders of the TS-LKD in the latest decade. However, their ratings have essentially hit rock bottom and are just slightly better than Valdemar Tomaševski’s of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania.

According to the political scientist, Masiulis’ ratings should not decline unless a more noticeable personality emerges at the centre of the political spectrum. In addition, people’s opinion about Masiulis should remain favourable because he does not hold any ruling positions.

Meanwhile Šimašius’ ratings rose because he won the mayoral race in Vilnius. His ratings are likely to depend on how he manages with his job as Mayor.

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