Predicting the fundamental goals of the presidential candidates: what each one really wants to achieve by participating

Presidential palace in Vilnius
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Political analysts believe the only candidate running for victory in the presidential elections is the current Head of State, Gitanas Nausėda. The rest of the candidates have completely different tasks to solve, Lauras Bielinis and Vytautas Dumbliauskas discussed it on Žinių Radijas programme. writes.        

However, political analysts believe that candidates who run a sluggish election campaign run a high risk – even a predictable and poll-forecasted election result can be turned upside down if voters do not turn out to the polls.

In the background

The presidential election marathon has reached the finish line. However, few call it an election, more like a re-election. Getting all the candidates together for the debates is becoming mission impossible. The Seimas started the spring session and have yet to work miracles. The defence tax is hanging in the balance, the scandal of interim checks plagues the country. Moreover, Šimonytė is left without the third minister.

Lithuania is forced to choose between money and migrants, and from May 1, its citizens will be able to register for the commandant’s office to show their love for their homeland. Political analysts Lauras Bielinis and Vytautas Dumbliauskas discussed the political climate during spring on Žinių Radijas.

Lauras Bielinis, a professor at Vytautas Magnus University (VDU), admits that capricious political amateurs would indeed like to see more dynamism, passion, conflict and a clear expression of positions in the elections, but this election lacks all that.

“The boredom is, in fact, our reaction to the fact that everything is basically solved. Everything is more or less clear—it’s just not yet clear whether Nausėda will win in the first or the second round. And it is clear who will win, which is why the elections look “tired,” said Bielinis during the programme.

However, the political scientist reminded us of the state’s constitutional structure—the president’s position is secondary to the Seimas, so intrigue will be visible during the Seimas elections.

“The big battle will be for the Seimas, and this is where we will see the real elections. And the presidential election is a test of strength, a show of leaders—all leaders. Even those who get one or half a per cent in the ratings today still want to show themselves as potential leaders,” Bielinis emphasised.

Tackling other challenges?

For his part, Dumbliauskas, a political scientist at Mykolas Romeris University (MRU), pointed out that democracy, in general, is a form of rule by passive spectators, where people sit on a couch in front of the TV and decide who they should vote for among the people who are proposing to be their representative.

Political scientists believe there is intrigue in elections when there is genuine competition between candidates, unlike in this year’s presidential election.

“Now, Nausėda and his team know there is no competition. They have calculated that it is enough for Nausėda to go around small towns and municipal centres, and he is doing that successfully.

And everybody else understands that there is no competitor at the moment – Nausėda is suitable for most of our voters, and that majority will vote for him,” Dumbliauskas said during the programme.

According to him, if there is no longer such a clear favourite in five years’ time, the presidential election will look very different.

“Now I would compare it to a sports competition—if one team is clearly stronger in a sports competition and it beats the other team, it is unlikely that we will buy tickets and go because everything is clear anyway. There is no beauty, no suspense. In both sports and politics, the attraction is competition with an unpredictable ending,” he said.

Dumbliauskas is convinced that the only candidate in the presidential elections who is running to win is Nausėda. According to political scientists, all the other candidates tackle other tasks.

“Šimonytė is the party’s Chairwoman, so she has to participate – she is thinking about the Seimas elections. Vėgėlė is a contender for big politics, and he might become a member of the Seimas – there is even talk that he will lead the list of the Peasant and Green’s Union Party. Žalimas, of course, is thinking about the European Parliament – for him, the presidential elections will be an advertising campaign. The others are more concerned with psychological problems”, he said.

Political analysts have argued that the remaining candidates are not campaigning actively because of the lack of real competition.

For example, Prime Minister Šimonytė said she did not see the need to go around Lithuania’s towns and cities because everyone already knows her position on all issues. So, “some kind of a campaign” with voters would not change the situation or create more voters.

There could be a surprise in-store

Mr. Bielinis is convinced that the passivity of candidates is a dangerous thing.

“Most of the public has already decided, and everything is clear. But there is one nuance – if everything is clear in advance, it could happen that a considerable number of voters will not turn up at the polls. And if they do not go to the polls, there could be a surprise.

The candidate who can get his voters up and coming out to vote will win. Not the one who has the ratings now, but the one who will make people vote.

Therefore, the fact that Mrs Šimonytė is not touring the regions means that she will not mobilise her electorate – either she does not want to, or she does not have the power because she has to perform other functions. This could come as a big surprise to her – she could be doing herself a disservice by not inviting her electorate to vote for her. That voter will not go because everything has already been decided.

So, there must be canvassing, although it is still unclear. But still, when everything is clear, the voter may not come. They need to be awakened,” stressed Mr Bielinis.
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