Support for the Peasant and Greens Union skyrocketed following the elections. How long this euphoria will last depends on the decisions made by the party which won the elections states Baltijos Tyrimai sociologist Romas Mačiūnas.
Under contract for news agency ELTA, the market and public opinion research company Baltijos Tyrimai performed a survey between October 25 and November 4 that is already after the second round of elections. The data shows that over a month support for the Peasant Greens rose by an entire 18 percentage points, while support for two parties – Labour and Lithuanian Social Democrats dropped the most, 4% and 3% respectively.
The Baltijos Tyrimai sociologist was not surprised by such results, nor does he think that this displayed the real number of people who intended to vote for that party, who simply feared to admit their favourites prior to the elections.
“This doesn’t mean that they planned to vote for the Peasant Greens, but didn’t want to admit it. We can see that prior to the campaign one of the effects was that the number of undecided voters rose. At the start of September almost 3 of 10 survey takers answered that they had yet to choose whether they would go to vote or who they would vote for. Now undecided voters make up only a fifth. This is the influence of the electoral campaign, people have essentially decided that the majority of the Lithuanian citizenry is inclined to support the victorious party,” said R. Mačiūnas.
Summarising the elected party’s communication, Vilnius University Communication faculty Media Research laboratory head Dr Andrius Šuminas concluded that it had not changed compared to what it was during the elections and is in line with voter expectations.
“In essence the narrative is the same as it was during the elections. People hear the same things and such simple talk, as that of the new Prime Minister, who is perhaps somewhat ridiculed by journalists and political scientists, but is novel and appealing to regular people and for now completely acceptable and in line with the expectations that were raised,” said Šuminas.
The political communication expert explains the rise in the Peasant Greens‘ popularity through undecided voters choosing to support the party.
“The increase in popularity can be explained through the portion of undecided voters, who usually are left in the undecided group during polling. This time they voted for the “Peasants”, which showed in the election results and now they are essentially continuing to support the same “Peasants”,” said A. Šuminas.
The expert notes the factor of inexperience in the new political power, but does not emphasise it.
“You can spot communication and coordination gaffes, but on the other hand that is usually to all new people, we see similar things after every election,” said A. Šuminas.
The survey done after the second round of elections shows that if new elections to Seimas were done soon, the majority of the population would support the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union. It would receive almost thirty percent of the vote, 28% to be more precise.
Second place would go to the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats with 14% and Lithuanian Social Democrat Party with 13%. In fourth would be the Lithuanian Republic Liberal Movement who would receive 8% of the vote and Order and Justice Party would receive 5%.
Next would be the Polish Electoral Action in Lithuania – Christian Families Union with 4% of the vote, Labour Party with 3%, Lithuanian Centre Party – 3% and Lithuanian Freedom Union (Liberals) with 1.5%.
The Baltijos Tyrimai sociologist highlighted that the popularity of the Peasant Greens started rising in March, when Saulius Skvernelis decided to join its electoral roll for the election.
“Prior to that it was support of 5-6%, in March it was already 7%, in April – 10% and in May it had already risen up to 15%. This party was already among the leading participants and remained such up to June-July. Afterward right before the elections that growth ceased somewhat,” said R. Mačiūnas.
The sociologist noted that in the first round of elections the results were nothing exceptional, while in the second round it was visible that voters were voting against all parties other than the Peasant Greens.
“Essentially it was voting for one party and against all others, first and foremost against the Homeland Union, but also in part against the incumbent coalition parties. We see the first effect how people view the situation immediately after the elections. 28% is definitely a large amount and shows that the party has broad support among the Lithuanian citizens,” said R. Mačiūnas.
Baltijos Tyrimai shows that the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union has slightly higher support among people older than 30, living in the countryside or smaller cities. The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats are relatively more supported by women, inhabitants of cities, pensioners and students. The LSDP is mostly supported by those over 50 who live in rural areas or smaller cities, as well as voters with the lowest family income per month (up to €600), while the Lithuanian Republic Liberal Movement has more support among those younger than 50, living in cities and also having higher education and the largest family incomes per month (more than €1000).
The survey was done from October 25 to November 4, 2016. 1122 citizens of Lithuania were interviewed (15 years of age and above), the survey was done at 125 different locations. The composition of survey takers reflects the composition of Lithuanian inhabitants 15 or older based on gender, age, education, nationality and type of living location. The survey result error margin is 3%.