Presidential elections analysis and the main takeaways

Dr. Gitanas Nausėda
Dr. Gitanas Nausėda and his wife at an Presidential Campaign event

Presidential elections analysis and the main takeaways from it, what are their? In the second round, Gitanas Nausėda gathered double the number of votes Ingrida Šimonytė did. What is even more important is that he gathered twice the number he received in the first round (876 vs 441 thousand), whereas Ingrida Šimonytė received essentially the same number (437 vs 446 thousand). This means that essentially all voters, who backed the remaining candidates, chose Gitanas Nausėda. Why, Andrius Baranauskas asks?

Weary of conflict

You see, people do not like politics. There’s a constant conflict and struggles in it and we, as a social species, have over millions of years learnt to despise conflict over and stray well far of them, otherwise we would have long culled one another.

Humans also dislike parties – both because they are constantly in conflict (refer to above) and because parties always take some position and if we support any one of them, the remaining ones automatically become unappealing.

G. Nausėda had a clear advantage here – not linked to any political power, he was more suitable in the role of someone seeking to unite.

It’s easier for a president in this regard. Unlike with Seimas, in the Presidential Palace, conflicts are hardly possible at all, thus people view it as an institution “above politics.”

And, of course, it is far easier for a political outside  to enter such an institution. Take V. Adamkus or V. Paksas, who resigned from all his posts back then, or D. Grybauskaitė returning from the European Commission.

Clarity of message

Many even noted that in the second round, there is a clash between two very similar candidates and their teams had to seek differences and point at them.

To be honest, both candidates in the Presidential elections had fairly uniform messages to voters. “Let’s finally come to agreement!” one said. “All our strength for Lithuania!” the other invited.

Both messages are, in essence, regarding the same thing, just that people have to choose between them in the end. And when the messages are the same, the people choose based on what the message says.

G. Nausėda had a clear advantage here – not being associated with any political power, he was more suited to be a uniting figure.

Tempo of communication

In the second round of Presidential elections, this was clearly held by G. Nausėda. All the support, endorsements and visits to Seimas groups were inevitably accompanied by a gaggle of cameras and camera flashes. Everything would reach the news media, everything created an active background in which G. Nausėda was dominant.

This was unimportant to those, who already voted for him or I. Šimonytė – these people already had their candidate. But 400 thousand voters did not and they had two weeks to decide, who to back.

Opponents’ support

Inevitably we have the question of just how those endorsements worked out. Did they help or did they not?

Unlike the first round of Presidential elections, the candidates did not have much time to attract the undecided voter. If during the first part of the campaign, they had long months to assemble their 400+ thousand voter bases, in the second round, they had to attract this many voters within two weeks.

Let’s take a step back here and look at the voter, who backed S. Skvernelis, V. Andriukaitis or even V. Mazuronis.

The person made their decision, was convinced that it is the best decision, went to the constituency, stood in line, submitted their ballot. Waited for results. Was anxious. In the end was disappointed.

At this point, we have psychology that arrives and tells us that we receive bad news in several stages. First there’s denial. Then, when you can no longer deny, the denial turns into anger, from this  – into disappointment and finally, this turns into negotiation and resignation.

After the first round results, we saw simply classical examples of this cycle. But it was also operating among voters.

And when a disappointed or prepared to negotiate voter is visited by the leader of the party he or she supports, who is carrying advice, that person will listen to the advice.

Voting against

Yes, in the second round, this is also important because those, who voted for the other candidates will choose a less unacceptable candidate. And here, just as many a time before, the candidate not associated with the Conservative party, wins. And if the party does not change anything, the story will repeat in the coming Seimas elections.

Important and unimportant matters

The second round of the Presidential elections was a little enlivened by negative information – especially about G. Nausėda’s campaign finances. We will now wait for VRK reports and will calculate, how much who spent, but it is clear that neither the question of campaign expenses, nor G. Nausėda‘s house mattered to voters.

This does not, however, mean that the questions are of no import to politicians. And the current majority, regardless of their support for G. Nausėda, will be the first to tackle them. Why?

Politics remains a struggle

Because in politics, it is harder to achieve agreement than make it big at a casino. Unless you own the casino, which is why politicians demonstrate the most unity and cooperation not in democratic countries, but all sorts of turkmenistans.

The president and other branches of government will have to once more discover the extents of their power and this will be the major challenge to G. Nausėda. Neither the Seimas, nor the cabinet, nor the ruling majority will be willing to let power and influence slip their hands. Quite the contrary – they will seek with all their strength to expand it. This will inevitably lead to confrontation and this will respectively impact the popularity of the president as an arbiter standing above politics. How will G. Nausėda fare? We will see very soon. An interesting year awaits us because the struggle over next year’s Seimas elections has just begun.

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