Opinion polls: ratings shifts after the Kildišienė scandal

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

The Peasant and Greens Union ratings have dropped by 4.2% over the past month, however Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ popularity rose an entire 11.3% during the same time.

Such data could be found in the public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai survey commissioned by Delfi. The survey was performed on January 17-25.

Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science lecturer Mažvydas Jastramskis explains that the Peasant and Greens Union ratings have to naturally decrease following the elections, though the so called “honeymoon” continues, with the winning party being given a credit of trust.

The political scientist notes that the Lithuanian public typically does not trust political parties, thus the Peasant and Greens rating in excess of 30% last month was surprising. It is now closing in to more natural boundaries.

On the other hand a part of the public typically turns to support the election winners. Thus it is hard to say whether the ratings predict election results or elections predict ratings.

When asked whether the story with Greta Kildišienė could have decreased the Peasant and Greens Union’s popularity, he notes that it is impossible to tell. “However their ratings are still exceedingly high, the gap between first place and second is massive,” M. Jastramskis says.

How can S. Skvernelis’ growing popularity be explained? M. Jastramskis reminds that the politician was already popular prior to the elections and supported the Peasant Greens with his political capital. Furthermore the politician in the post of Prime Minister typically becomes one of the most popular politicians, particularly at the start of term.

We only need look back to the Spinter Tyrimai survey in January 2013 when Algirdas Butkevičius‘ popularity reached 30.3% and the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party’s – 26.7%.

Public relations specialist Arijus Katauskas notes that S. Skvernelis was already notably popular as the Minister of the Interior in the Butkevičius cabinet.

“When S. Skvernelis obtains an opportunity to speak, receives attention, he immediately receives a vast credit of trust,” A. Katauskas said.

He explains that S. Skvernelis benefits from the overall situation – Lithuania has a notable lack of leaders, thus the new PM, with his sense of humour and a good sense for when to speak and what to say is naturally becoming a star.

“He has almost no competition,” A. Katauskas says.

When asked about the influence of the story revolving around G. Kildišienė, the public relations specialist stresses that S. Skvernelis manoeuvred splendidly in the situation – he stated his opinion when needed and only as much as needed, not too much, but not too little.

Peasant Greens – at the apex

Based on the survey if elections to Seimas were held this coming Sunday, the Peasant Greens would receive support from 26.5% of respondents. Their popularity decreased by 4.2% from 30.7% previously.

The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats are the second most popular party. There is, however, a vast gap between the two parties. The Conservatives would receive support from 13.4% of respondents. This is 1.4% more than last month.

The Social Democrats remain the third most popular party, with 10.2% of respondents indicating they would support the Social Democrats. This is a rise of 1.3%.

Next follows the Liberal Movement, which would receive support from 6.1% of respondents. The Liberals’ ratings rose by 0.4% compared to last month.

The error margin for the survey is around 3.1%.

The other parties would not exceed the electoral barrier which reaches 5%. For example the Polish Electoral Action in Lithuania – Christian Families Union would receive support from 4% of respondents, Order and Justice – 3%, while things look grim for the Labour Party, which would receive support from only 2% of respondents.

The incredible popularity of S. Skvernelis

With the Peasant and Greens Union ratings dropping somewhat, PM Skvernelis’ popularity continues to skyrocket. 39.9% of respondents found him to be best suited for the post of PM.
This is likely no surprise because with any politician becoming PM the people of the country automatically begin to associate them with the post. For example A. Butkevičius’ popularity was 30.3% in January 2013 and 33.6% in December 2012.

That said Conservative Andrius Kubilius did not reach such heights of popularity. In early 2009 Spinter Tyrimai did not ask analogous questions, but for example in 2009 most people in the country wanted to see Irena Degutienė as PM rather than A. Kubilius, albeit even her popularity reached only 14.5%. Of course we must not forget this was in the midst of the crisis.

The second candidate following Skvernelis would be Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats Chairman Gabrielius Landsbergis, but only 7.8% of respondents thought so.

Only 5% of respondents believe A. Butkevičius is suitable to be the prime minister.

Only 3.8% of respondents believed that Peasant and Greens Union Chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis, who declared already prior to the elections that he would not pursue any cabinet posts, would be suited to be PM.

Liberal Movement leader and Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius‘ was found to be suited for the role by 4.2% of respondents, SEB bank economist Gitanas Nausėda by 3.5%, MEP Rolandas Paksas by 2.9%, member of Seimas A. Kubilius by 2.3%, MEP Antanas Guoga by 2.2% and MEP Vilija Blinkevičiūtė by 1.9%.

Cabinet work viewed positively

S. Skvernelis’ popularity and the hopes associated with the new government potentially also boost the people’s trust in the government.

When asked how they view the current work of the ministerial cabinet, 6.8% of respondents evaluated it positively, with 39% viewing it somewhat positively.

Another 30.7% view the government’s activities somewhat negatively and 9.3% view it negatively. 14.2% of respondents did not answer the question.

The public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai performed a public opinion survey on January 17-25, 2017 by commission of Delfi. Citizens aged 18 to 75 participated in the research. The survey method was a standardised interview.

The research was performed across Lithuania in a total of 65 points selected to represent the whole territory of the state. 1010 respondents were interviewed. The distribution of respondents is proportional to the number of inhabitants in the country’s regions. The error margin of the research is 3.1%.

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