Despite the Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union (LVŽS) ratings released last Saturday being the lowest since the elections, political scientists do not view this as overly significant – it could simply be a coincidence, there are no signs of crisis in the party. Meanwhile the next Seimas elections may prove unfavourable for current parties in Seimas.
According to a Vilmorus survey released by the Lietuvos Rytas daily last Saturday, currently in Seimas elections 17.6% of respondents would vote for the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), which is 16.8% up from March, while the "Farmers" would receive votes from 11.9% of voters (down from 16.2% in March).
The opposition Conservatives' lead over the current ruling LVŽS has increased.
In an earlier survey, the Lithuanian Social Democrat Party (LSDP), which was in third place, now ceded this position to the Order and Justice Party, who would receive 7.2% of the vote (down from 9% in March).
Meanwhile the LSDP's 10.1% ratings from March have been split near evenly by Gintautas Paluckas' LSDP (4.9%) and Gediminas Kirkilas' newly founded Lithuanian Social Democrat Labour Party (LSDDP), who would receive votes from 5% of respondents.
Head of VIlmorus, sociologist Vladas Gaidys says that the Farmer-Greens' fall was observed over the whole previous year. "The current result is the lowest since the elections. I wouldn't say it is a dramatic trend – the fall was most visible in the first half of last year – both for Saulius Skvernelis and Ramūnas Karbauskis, as well as the party. I would not say that the current drop is sensational, but their result has decreased," V. Gaidys said.
While based on the survey, in the multi-mandate district, the elections would be favourable for the Conservatives, it is difficult to predict regarding the single-mandate districts.
However, things may be, V. Gaidys emphasises, as the ruling party, the Farmer-Greens are second and visible in the media. "I wouldn't say that you could describe them as being in a party crisis – I don't see it. I see a crisis with the Social Democrats – they split in half, got smaller. The crisis is in the matter that it is unclear how they differ, their electorates are identical. The Labour Party was also in a crisis, we will now see how active Viktor Uspaskich will be. A crisis in the Liberal Movement is evident," the sociologist spoke.
According to the expert, in this context the "Farmers" look quite well – the prime minister's ratings are good. The party would appear to be comprised of two poles – S. Skvernelis and R. Karbauskis, where one is among the most popular, while the other – the opposite.
V. Gaidys concludes that in the current context, the political parties do not look all that well. Currently greater potential is held by civic movements, committees.
M. Jastramskis shares grim predictions
Meanwhile Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU TSPMI) lecturer, Kaunas Technology University political scientist Mažvydas Jastramskis believes that the next parliament may only feature 2-3 current parliamentary parties.
"I'm not saying that it's the main scenario, however such a version is possible because overall Lithuanian voters are inclined to swap. So far the main anchors – the Social Democrats and the Conservatives – had a large majority if consistent votes and voting for other parties had somewhat stabilised over the past few elections. Now there is just one party, which gathers 20% support, thus everything is possible," M. Jastramskis said.
The political scientist reminds that more than half of those coming to vote in elections choose someone other than in the previous elections.
Meanwhile the decline in LVŽS ratings does not seem overly significant to M. Jastramskis – the decline in ratings could be coincidental. If one wants to see trends, it is necessary to wait a few months and compare with the ratings of other parties.
According to the expert, in terms of the Social Democrats, one does not have to be a political scientist to tell that the party splitting and 5% ratings are no good. He reminds that in 2013 the Social Democrats had ratings of 30% and only just fell behind the Conservatives in loyal voters. In this matter, the political scientist says, it is not the voters to blame, but the politicians, who split the party.
"There are increasingly many signs that the worst case scenario is developing in the left that I pointed out after the last Seimas elections – that Lithuania will go the way of Hungary and Poland, where "traditional" (ex-communist) left wing parties were greatly weakened (not even entering parliament in Poland)," the political scientist predicted.
While the Conservatives are currently holding the first place in ratings, M. Jastramskis believes that they have reached a ceiling. "I believe that if they continue to do what they are, a ceiling has been reached – with a clear war, based on personal disputes, a frequently drawn up Kremlin card. If they want something similar to when the "Farmers" won or the ratings once held by the Social Democrats, I imagine they need to soften their image," the TSPMI docent said.
At the same time, he doubts whether the LVŽS could perform the same as in the previous elections – research shows that usually ruling parties are unable to achieve it.
R. Žemaitaitis' surprising fortunes
V. Gaidys notes that the Order and Justice Party leader Remigijus Žemaitaitis is the only party chairman with a positive evaluation balance. The sociologist is unable to understand, why this is the case, but muses that it could be due to his frequent participation in a popular women's show.
Meanwhile, Gabrielius Landsbergis is very popular in the party, however has a negative evaluation balance – more respondents view him negatively than positively. V. Gaidys highlights that Gediminas Kirkilas is especially unpopular, as is Gintautas Paluckas.
V. Gaidys points out the uneven activity of various parties' electorates. TS-LKD, Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Union electorates are active, while the Order and Justice electorate is very passive.
According to the sociologist, currently Order and Justice is third based on surveys, but it is a question, ho many potential voters of their will come to vote.