Poll: presidents, that Lithuanians value the most

Vytautas Landsbegis, Dalia Grybauskaitė, Valdas Adamkus, Algirdas Brazauskas

Algirdas Brazauskas and Antanas Smetona – are the most valued interwar and contemporary presidents of Lithuania.

According to, to the poll on public opinion conducted by the public opinion and market research company “Splinter tyrimai” on the behalf of DELFI, the before mentioned presidents are the most valued and prized presidents of Lithuania.

Moreover, the historian for the Lithuanian Institute of History, Algimantas Kasparavičius noted that A. Smetona is valued with in regards to his association to the history of the interwar years: as he was elected as the chairman of the Council of Lithuania three times, served twice as the President – once elected by the Lithuanian Council itself, and the second time gained the post after a coup in 1928.

Furthermore, on the subject of the contribution of A. Brazauskas to the Lithuanian society the historian points to the very society itself- it is getting older, is exposed to immigration flows which is why it has a certain nostalgia feeling regarding the past.

A. Brazauskas and V. Adamkus are valued the most

According to, the public opinion poll the surveyed residents of Lithuania value A. Brazauskas the most in regards to his contribution to modern Lithuanian history. 31.4 pct. of all surveyed residence also believe that his contribution is also the largest made by any politician.

The political career of A. Brazauskas began during the Soviet years when he was the first secretary of Lithuania Communist party’s Central Committee. Under the politicians leadership the Lithuanian Communists in 1989 broke away from Moscow, and later on formed the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (LDDP) which later on merged with the social democrats and took their name.

Furthermore, A. Brazauskas was the President of an Independent Lithuania from 1993 to 1998. Moreover, the politician did not perceive the position as very acceptable, thus he did not run for a second term but rather returned to the political arena as the Prime Minister.

Additionally, A. Brazauskas headed the Government from 2001 to 2006. While the contribution of V. Adamkus to the country was appreciated by 27.4 pct. of the respondents.

Although, the before mentioned politician was born in Lithuania, during WWII his parents fled to Germany and then to the United Stated of America. Thus, V. Adamkus spent the better part of his life living in the United States where he worked in the Environmental Protection agency before quitting and returning to the Lithuanian political scene in 1993 when he was the head of the Stasys Lozoraitis election headquarters but defeated during the following election by A. Brazauskas.

After than in 1998 V. Adamkus himself participated in the election and own. Then in 2002 he lost the election to Rolandas Paksas, but after the impeachment of the before mentioned politician from office, V. Adamkus was re-elected as president once more.

When asked which Lithuanian head of state and/or president contribution to the state is the largest, the current President of the country Dalia Grybauskaitė takes the third place whose work was rate positively by 11.7 pct. of the respondents.

Dalia Grybauskaitė has been occupying the president office since 2009. Therefore, as this is her second term she will not be able to run for election once more in 2019.

The politician became a shining star in the Lithuanian political sky when under the Government of A. Brazauskas, she was working as the Minister of Finance before being delegated from Lithuania to the European Union. Thus, from the post of a euro-commissioner she jumped right into the presidential race.

The contribution of the former head of the state Vytautas Landsbergis was rated at 10.9 pct. by respondents.

Although, V. Landsbergis was never elected as the president of Lithuania, the politician served as the chairman for the Supreme Council. Furthermore, according to the Interim Constitution of 1990-1992, he was serving as the actual head of the state.

The lowest rating from the interviewed residence was given to the R. Paksas who was removed from office by impeachment proceedings – he is important to only 2.8 pct. of the respondents. R. Paksas served as president from 2003-2004.

Moreover, A. Brazauskas was more often identified by men, 36 of age and old, respondents with average education living in both district centres and villages.

The contribution of V. Adamkus was seen as significant by the metropolitan population, and people with higher-income jobs. In regards, to D. Grybauskaitė was said to be of importance by women, and despondence ranging from the age of 18 to 45 years of age, while V. Landsbergis was more often referred as important elder people (45 and over) with higher education, higher income of the cities’ population representatives.

Why A. Brazauskas in particular?

According to, Tomas Janeliūnas a professor in the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, people judge the Lithuanian state leaders not based on the fact of how much they achieved but rather based on their personal reputation and personal image.

“The thing is A. Brazauskas has passed away which why people naturally tend to give a more positive image to dead politicians and/or celebrities which is according to tradition that states only to speak well of the deceased or not to speak at all. Thus, such is the mystification of A. Brazauskas which will increase as more time continues to pass. In addition, it is difficult for people to distinguish between A. Brazauskas when he was a Prime Minister and when he took the office of president or was occupied with other political matters” – stated the political scientist.

Historian A. Kasparavičius argues, that the fact that the public values A. Brazausko contribution to the state, testifies to the fact that the society – is both aging and nostalgic.

“If there was no large scale immigration today, if there was not only 2.8 million people in Lithuania but rather 3.8 million, I am almost certain that then we would have a somewhat different opinion. The society that is left today, is quite frankly disabled. This is evident from many separate components. If that was the case, we would not be at the tail end of the European Union. The society places their sympathy once way and through it sees the situation. I am not saying that I agree with the society but I am saying that I understand the society” – the interlocutor stated.

According to, A Kasparavičius, A. Brazauskas can be judged based on a number of things. First, under his leadership the Communist Party of Lithuania broke away from Moscow, though not very willingly, he together with others moved towards an independent Lithuania. The historian, further notes that during this time poles living in the Southeast Lithuania did not seek autonomy. Thus, if support for these ideas would have risen, Lithuania would have had its own Transnistria and/or Donbass.

Second, although A. Brazauskas won the 1993 presidential election and had very high ratings, he turned down the chance to seek a second term in office. Thus, according to A. Kasparavičius without A. Brazauskas decision not to seek a second term in office, might not have had a different president until V. Adamkus.

Third, A. Bazauskas has established himself in the minds of people even when he was preforming his duties as the Prime Minister of Lithuania, as a person responsible for specific reforms. Of course, he did not escape without his own scandals such as the privatization stories and the strange friendships with certain figures. However, it would seem that in the eyes of society he looks like a politician that during hard times was not afraid to take control of the execute branch.

According to, the historian V. Landsbergis is not considered to be strong perhaps largely due to the fact that he did not officially have the office of President and did not work in the execute branch. One way or another, the office and responsibilities of both the Supreme Council president and the chairman of the Parliament are different in nature, as they are a bit calmer especially during the period of 1996 to 2000.

Moreover, A. Kasparavičius notes that unlike A. Brazauskas and V. Landsbergis, who both came from the Soviet era V. Adamkus was a completely different kind of politician, who had tremendous success. V. Adamkus was born into the family of a general, his godfather was a former Prime Minister Augustinas Voldemaras, his parents were lucky enough to safely move to the West, even though his father attended the 1944 resistance against the Soviets in Žemaitija, while in the West he made a very successful career and belonged to the organization of “Santarai-Šviesai” which in the eyes of the emigrates was seen as ambiguous.

“In a word he was open to all four sides which probably contributed to the fact that he became president in 1998. But once again, I repeat myself he became president because A. Brazauskas refused to run for the office once again” – stated the historian.

A. Jokubaitis is surprised by the lagging behind of D. Grybauskaitė

Alydas Jokubaitis a professor the International Relations and Political Science in the Vilnius University, is surprised by D. Grybauskaitės lagging in the polls behind A. Brazauskas and V. Adamkus regarding their contributions to Lithuanian state.

However, the political scientist points out that in response to such questions the public generally values the image of the head of state and not the job they have done while occupying the office.

“There is no basis to talk about the merits A. Brazauskas as the head of the Lithuanian state, except his much more important attractive personality traits. With the division of the polls questions into smaller parameters, it would not be hard to prove the similarities between V. Adamkus and D. Grybauskaitė. The first strong similarity between the two is their strength regarding state foreign policy, furthermore D. Grybauskaitė is unrivalled in the fight against the oligarchs. Which is why her lag behind A. Brazauskas and V. Adamkus is so surprising. What does the long-lasting leadership then mean in the current sociological polls? Why by winning today, she is losing to her predecessors?” – stated the professor.

“This is truly a matter of state and the same with the answer. Researchers are looking for the answer to this question until the very end of Lithuania and it will surely be political, and not a scientific answer. Although, everyone is critiquing President A. Smetona, the inter-war Lithuanian continues to be referred to as “Smetona’s Lithuania”. The defining moment in the Lithuanian state was the work of Landsbergis, who is honoured once more for his irony and arrogance, rather than the assessment of his participation in Lithuania’s policy formation” – adds A. Jokubaitis.

The most important in the Interwar Lithuania is A. Smetona

According to, A. Jokubaitis the respondents are actually right about the “Smetona’s Lithuania”. In regards to question about which interwar president was the most important about 49.1 pct. of the respondents said that it was A. Smetona.

Moreover, the historian A. Jokubaitis further notes that this is not a coincidence: as this person even during the interwar years was considered indispensable. Since he was trice the President of the Lithuanian Council, twice of which he was not even elected into office by the public.

Furthermore, the interlocutor stated that in 1919 none of the political forces during the time perceived another person to be able to handle the office of President until the call of the Constituent Parliaments convention, apart from A. Smetona. Additionally, A. Karparavičius notes that A. Smetona did not utilize the administrations resources and during the election in 1920 the Nationalists under his leadership lost the election.

The second time, A. Smetona became president was after the coup in 1926 and held the position until June, 1940 when he left Lithuania. This, step made by A. Smetona is evaluated ambiguously, but A. Karparavičius that thinking rationally the withdrawal of the President was a clear demonstration that he is protesting against the occupation and non-resistance.

“In the historical memory A. Smetonos figure looks as a creator of the state, which is if not the main but one of the key images of the President. The second moment – for a long time it was him that was at the helm of the state. Well, in regards to the year of 1940 a person with the least bit of a rational mind, if there are some of them in Lithuania and had not emigrated must be aware that the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, also reacted the same and after the Nazis occupied Luxembourg left the state. However, she is not blamed as having committed treason in Luxembourg. A. Smetona should be judged in the same way: he makes a political statement that he does not agree with the decision of the Government and political elite, as well as high ranking officer corps not to resist, as its chained with fear which clouds their thoughts and actions” – stated A. Karparavičius.

About Egle Samoskaite 31 Articles
Rašau vidaus ir užsienio politikos temomis. Domiuosi darbo santykių reforma Lietuvoje, procesais politinių partijų viduje. Užsienio politikos srityje rašau apie santykius su Rusija ir JAV, taip pat Vidurio Rytus, ypač daug dėmesio skiriu politiniams procesams Turkijoje. Labai domiuosi musulmonų bendruomenių gyvenimu Europoje. Vilniaus universitete esu baigusi Tarptautinių santykių ir politikos mokslų institutą, žurnalistinę karjerą pradėjau naujienų agentūroje BNS.
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