Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN
The last poll before Seimas election this Sunday shows that Lithuania’s Social Democrats (SD) retain a razor-thin edge over the other two fierce rivals, Conservatives and Peasants/Greens (LVŽS), but the lead can be gone by the Election Day.
A pack of three vying for top spot
If the election were held today, 15.6 percent of the voters would pick the SD Party as their favourite. The dark horse of the general election, LVŽS, could expect 14 per cent of the tally and the rejuvenated Conservatives (officially, Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats, or TS-LKD) would snatch 13.7 percent of all the votes. In comparison, the SD rating in August was 1.6 per cent higher, meanwhile, the LVŽS’ support slimmed by 1.6 percent, too, and Conservatives enjoy 3.2 percent growth from August, month-to-month.
«I would say the chances of both the Social Democrats, Conservatives and Peasants/Greens are pretty much the same with a few days to go,» says Vladas Gaidys, director of Vilmorus, a market research and polling company.
However, the ruling Social Democrats should be more worried, he insists, as the regularly deteriorating numbers are likely to worsen to the election.
«And this bids no good for the party as voters, especially those having doubts, are inclined to vote for a party rising in the polls, not vice versa. So from that standpoint, Social Democrats should be worried,» Vilmorus head told BNN.
Ratings’ trajectory is crucial
Agreeing, Mažvydas Jastramskis, a lecturer of the International Relations and Political Sciences at Vilnius University, also accentuates the tendency of declining support for the Social Democrats.
«When assessing the ratings, the trajectory- edging upward or downward throughout a lengthy course of time – is very important. From that standpoint, Social Democrats’ support is on decline while the other two parties’ is edging up. So concluding, I’d say the chances of all the three parties in the multi-member constituency are effectively the same. But Social Democrats should be really worried,» he told Delfi.lt
The analyst believes that the SD Party’s slimmer support is a result of the ruling party’s inability to promptly address the scandals shaking the Government.
«The adoption of a new Labour Code has significantly reduced their chances to win,» believes Jastramskis.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė vetoed the contentious bill in July, but the Social Democrats-led ruling coalition overrode the head’s-of-state «no» in September.
The president has called the new Code «inhuman» and insisted it panders to the employers, not defends the ranks.
In response, the Social Democratic Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevičius, shot back, claiming that Grybauskaitė is «out of touch” with the reality.
Yet, most analysts agree that the time for adoption of the new Labour Code could not have been worse.
«Social Democrats are gambling with it, no less,» says Gaidys.
Analyst distrusts poll results
Harkening back to the not-so-old days, when the SD party boasted cushy support despite the series of scandals miring top-tier SD members, Vytautas Dumbliauskas, a Lithuanian political analyst, says he feels «a little» dumbstruck by the party’s rampant decline in the ratings.
«I don’t really have any evidence that some of the polls might be biased, or shady, but the speedy dip in the ratings has me guessing about many things and the impartiality of the polls, too,» he told BNN.
However, Lauras Bielinis, professor of political sciences at Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, is not surprised with the thinning support for Social Democrats either.
«The explanation for the downward trajectory of support for Social Democrats is simple: they have been under heavy attacks. They have been way more intense than those directed to other parties. I reckon we should be surprised not as much by the fall in Social Democrats’ ratings as much by their ability to withstand the scathing attacks from media and opponents,» Bielinis said.
«The latest poll clearly shows that we have two packs of political parties ahead of the parliamentary election. The possibilities of Social Democrats, Conservatives and Peasants/Greens look very similar,» agrees Ignas Zokas, head of Spinter tyrimai, another market research and polling company.
How do the rest stack up?
Behind the three parties follows the Labour Party, being supported by 5.2 percent of respondents (Labourists’ support dropped 1.4 percent from August). The embattled Liberal Movement (the party’s former leader Eligijus Masiulis is fighting corruption and influence peddling charges –L.J.) could expect now 5 per cent, against 6.3 per cent in August; meanwhile, the favourability of Order and Justice Party shrunk from 5.1 percent in August to 4.9 percent now.
To remind, to obtain parliamentary mandates in the multiple-member electoral district, Lithuania’s political parties need to overcome the barrier of 5 per cent of all votes. For coalitions, the threshold is at 7 per cent.
Although the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Naglis Puteikis and Kristupas Krivickas (the former is a MP and the latter is a well-known TV journalist – L.J.) has been scrambling up in the ratings persistently, it nevertheless, with the current support of 4.6 percent (up 1.3 percent from August) would come today empty-handed in the race for the coveted Seimas seats.
Speaking of the other parties on the bottom, the Electoral Actions of Poles, a political party based on Polish ethnicity, would attract today 4.2 percent of the voters, down from 4.7 percent in August; Lithuania’s Freedom Union (Liberals) would see 2.5 percent of the support, down from 3 per cent in August.
Notably, 22 per cent of respondents pointed out they have not made up their mind what they will vote for in the election.
Electoral rolls for the election include 2,504,267 eligible voters, including over 13,000 Lithuanian citizens who registered to vote abroad. The ballot paper for multi-mandate districts includes 14 lists, with 12 nominated by political parties and two coalitions, each including two parties.
President votes for« change»
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė said after casting her ballot in early voting in the parliamentary elections that she had voted for change.
«For changes that would lead towards stable improvement of well-being,» the president told journalists at the Vilnius municipality on Wednesday, October 5.
Grybauskaitė said she voted early to demonstrate her interest in taking part in the election.
Asked to specify her expectations for the future administration, Grybauskaitė said: «First of all, they should think about Lithuania and its people rather than their pocket. They should be less stealing.»
«One should vote for Lithuania, and Lithuania is always here,» the president underlined.
LVŽS leader: «Others will have to hear us»
Ramūnas Karbauskis, the chairman of the LVŽS, who voted early in the parliamentary election Kaunas on Wednesday, hinted he hopes his party will secure sufficient part of the tally to form the government after the general elections.
«If the voter turnout is high enough, we will win the elections, we will definitely win the first round. We would like to win enough mandates to be able to form a government of professionals and be the core of the coalition,» Karbauskis told BNS on Wednesday, October 5.
He admitted this may be an uneasy task, if the Social Democrats and the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats decide to form the ruling bloc, as they may become the main competitor of the Peasant and Green Union, according to opinion polls.
«If we have support of the people, the parties will hardly form a coalition and will then have to hear us,» Karbauskis added.
He did not rule out the possibility of a coalition with the two political forces, emphasizing that no talks had been held in advance.