bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Saturday 23.02.2019 | Name days: Haralds, Almants
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania: Government’s support edges down, PM unscathed despite controversies

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The trust in the Lithuanian government fell nearly five per cent in September, month-on-month, and the dissatisfaction among Lithuanians in it is likely to grow ahead of the coming elections to municipal Councils, European Parliament and President’s office.

Twenty nine percent of those surveyed had a positive or rather positive opinion about the government’s work in August, and the number stood at 24.6 per cent in September.

At the start of summer, in June, the Cabinet’s activities were positively evaluated by 27.7 per cent of respondents, in May – 32.4 per cent, April – 30.7 per cent, March – 33.9 per cent and February – 31.6 per cent.

However, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who is believed to be the presidential candidate of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, LVŽS, circumvented the public mood swings unscathed – 18.4 per cent, a rise of 1.1 per cent from the previous month, believed last month that Skvernelis was the best for the position of prime minister, a poll by pollster Spinter tyrimai revealed last week.

Most political experts agree that the reduction in the Government support is not a surprise, as with the Government’s mid-term nearing, people are getting more demanding and rightly question the Cabinet’s achievements. In addition, in summer time, people have tendency to pay little attention to a Government’s performance, a result of holidays.

«If we were to look at the history of Lithuanian governments, they were always better evaluated than the Parliaments. There is this engrained perception among Lithuanians that members of Parliament just idle and bicker while governments and their heads do something for all,» Vytautas Dumbliauskas, associate professor at Mykolas Romeris University and a political analyst, told BNN.

Behind the lower Government approval is also a pretty strained relation between the Prime Minister and the media, analysts say.

The animosity spiked last week, when the Government revealed its plan to require fee from journalists accessing the Centre of Registers’ data. The amendments presented to the Cabinet by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which is tasked with reforming of the Centre of Registers, envisioned free access to the Centre of Registers information, however they were rejected in the Cabinet meeting.

Amid the outcry, Skvernelis argued that the draft amendments had to be corrected as lawyers found shortcomings in them. With the news media outlets demanding access to the tape of the governmental meeting, PM announced that the cabinet chancellery had destroyed the recording.

The incident just capped a series of contentious decisions by the Government, among which are the overhaul of Pension Funds, the network of hospitals, an initiative to close down little shops and in gardeners’ settlement and so on.

Mykolas Katkus, head of the communications agency Fabula and a public relations specialist, believes that, with a cabinet’s term reaching its midpoint, the heads of cabinet – ranging from Andrius Kubilius to Algirdas Butkevičius – would often face more scrutiny and criticism from journalists. This cabinet’s case is no exception, the expert says.

«To me, it appears that Skvernelis’ honeymoon with the news media has reached its end. There is nothing particularly strange about this. Usually, all cabinets, which reach the midpoint of their term, eventually seek to regulate relations with the news media and reach a certain end of their honeymoon. For a time, a certain part of the news media criticised the head of cabinet, but overall, Skvernelis was viewed far more favourably in the media than, say, Ramūnas Karbauskis, chairman of the LVŽS. Now the sort of honeymoon has ended, there appears to be no trust left and every action of the cabinet is viewed with much criticism,» Katkus reasoned.

Meanwhile political scientist Šarūnas Liekis says that the scandal over the pay-per-view Centre of Registers data showed that the Government, like the other previously, has not learnt to consult the public and especially – interest groups.

«Prime Minister Skvernelis’ cabinet has been no exception. None of the cabinets made use of the consultation model. Little information, little consultation with interest groups, just sorting out affairs as they see fit. This causes problems. Decisions must be coordinated with interest groups, the Journalists’ Union in this case. No one wants to do this, no one wants to take it up because they are not thinking it is a value, interest groups are not viewed as serious partners. All that is beyond the institution of the ministerial cabinet is viewed as an obstruction. The weakening of civic society is an indicator of this situation. The state not only fails to create opportunities for civic society to influence its decisions, but is even ruining civic society,» Liekis commented to lrt.lt.

When asked, why Skvernelis failed to contain the situation and a conflict erupted between the government and the news media, the political scientist reminded that the current prime minister worked in the police system all his life, thus it is likely still difficult for him to resolve dilemma in the political arena and seek compromise.

«All of Skvernelis’ life has been spent in a statutory institution. He gives commands to, for example, three police stations, the rest salute and execute the commands, but here it is more difficult – the government is no statutory organisation. In this situation, it is a clash of two different cultures,» Liekis accentuated.

Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science (VU TSPMI) lecturer Mažvydas Jastramskis advised to not limit oneself to a single survey’s data and to watch for trends to come.

«The change over one month could simply be coincidental…Institutional exhaustion can be as one of the reasons, why the cabinet’s ratings are not rising…A number of factors are piling up: people’s expectations are large, they cannot be fulfilled over two years, scandals are appearing, problems, ongoing issues. With time passing, there is an erosion of cabinet ratings » Jastramskis said.

Yet Prime minister’s ratings remained stable amid the controversies he and his Government were engulfed lately.

«People often evaluate individuals based on personal traits, while they expect results from the cabinet as an institution,» Jastramskis explained.

«There is no correlation between popularity of a state institution and its head. The anecdotal minister of the Government, which Health minister Aurelijus Veryga is in many eyes, takes the brunt of the public’s anger. Lithuanians like Skvernelis for his straight-forwardness and exuberance,» Dumbliauskas accentuated to BNN.

The ratings of the ruling LVŽS have also been little affected by a slew of adverse factors.

The Farmers and Greens enjoyed 18.3 per cent support in September and the Conservatives with 19.2 per cent were on top of the Spinter tyrimai poll.

Jastramskis says that two political powers have established themselves and are seen by voters as alternatives to one another – the TS-LKD and LVŽS.

«This is good because it is clear, who is in power and answers for decisions, as well as what the main alternative is. Thus, it is clear that the «Farmers» have to answer for their decisions. The main alternative is the TS-LKD. So bipolar competition is good for democracy,» Jastramskis claimed.


Leave a reply

Latvia’s inflation was higher than the average in EU and Eurozone and January

In January 2019, inflation in Latvia was higher than average inflation in the European Union and Eurozone, according to data from Eurostat.

Suicide rates among Baltic youngsters are the highest in Europe

Suicide rates among youngsters in Baltic States are the highest among European Union member states, according to results of a study on the welfare of youngsters in the Baltic States.

Unemployment in Latvia was 7.4% in 2018

72.8 thousand people were unemployed in 2018. Compared to 2017, number of unemployed persons dropped by 12.6 thousand or 14.8 %. Last year, Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.4 %, which is 1.3 percentage points lower than in 2017.

Employment in Latvia reached 64.5% in 2018

909.4 thousand or 64.5 % of Latvia population aged 15–74 were employed in 2018. Compared to 2017, employment rate grew by 1.6 percentage points and number of employed persons by 14.6 thousand.

Anti-fraud activist Browder to submit criminal complaint over Swedbank

British investor and activist against Russia-related money laundering, Bill Browder, has voiced plans to submit a criminal complaint against Swedbank to Swedish authorities over its involvement in alleged money laundering transactions in the Baltics.

Latvian police assist German colleagues with «Russian Laundromat» case

German law enforcement institutions have finished investigating the ‘Russian Laundromat’ case. Latvian Economic Crime Enforcement Department assisted their German colleagues with the investigation, as reported by Latvian State Police.

Pilot's mistake found as cause of Estonia missile firing

The missile accidentally released over Estonia in 2018 was fired because of a mistake of the pilot of the Spanish NATO Baltic Air Policing aircraft, according to an investigation concluded by Estonia.

Grass-burning season in Latvia commences with six separate fires

On Thursday, 21 February, Latvian firefighters were called in to deal with the first grass fires this year. This first such fire this year was put out in Ugāle, where last year’s grass was burning on an area close to half a hectare.

UK backing down on demands to re-open Brexit agreement

London seemed to soften its stance in Brexit negotiations with the European Union from fruitless attempts to re-open the withdrawal agreement to securing new guarantees to reassure eurosceptic members of the British parliament over the time frame of the temporary Northern Ireland border rules.

Spanish train manufacturer appeals Latvian procurement outcome in court

Spanish train manufacturer Talgo has appealed the decision made by Latvian Procurement Monitoring Bureau on re-assessment of results of the procurement of electric trains, saying that PMB has made big mistakes and wrong conclusions, which resulted in an illegal decision, Talgo representatives say.

Mass rallies held in Slovakia on murder anniversary of Slovak journalist

Large rallies have been held in Slovakia on the first anniversary of the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee that brought down the country's government, but still has not been solved.

Minister: PUC’s and Competition Council’s functions should be expanded

There is no need to merge Public Utilities Commission and Competition Council. It would be better to expand their respective functions, said Latvian Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro.

Nights to become chilly in Latvia, whereas days will become warmer soon

The centre of an anticyclone is currently above Scandinavia. This anticyclone will start gradually moving south-west on Friday, 22 February. It will also dictate weather in Latvia – the sky will become clear but air will remain chilly, promises Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuanian law enforcers bust high-profile judges and attorneys

In an unprecedented move yet, Lithuania’s law enforcers busted this week what it may be an organised, yet impenetrable until now ring of the country’s some A-tier judges and lawyers. Some of the big names have deliberated high-profile legal cases implicating some of Lithuania’s most heinous criminal gangs.

Latvian Saeima rejects proposal to reduce number of ministries

On Thursday, 21 February, the Saeima rejected a proposal from the opposition and several KPV LV deputies on reduction of ministries.

Latvian Saeima supports legislative draft on people’s rights after Brexit

Saeima has supported Foreign Affairs Committee’s legislative draft intended to ensure better legislative cooperation and protection of people’s rights during the transition period after the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, as confirmed by the parliament’s press-service.

Study: Latvian residents worried the most about traffic accidents when travelling

When travelling abroad, Latvian residents are afraid the most of ending up in a traffic accident (56%), fall ill (54%) or become injured (53%), according to results of a study performed by If Insurance.

Producer price level in industry in Latvia grew 0.1% in January

Compared to December 2018, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.1 % in January 2019. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 0.4 %, but prices of exported products reduced by 0.2 %.

Twitter introduces special political ad policy with EU election in mind

The world's leading microblogging site Twitter on Tuesday presented tools in the European Union to simplify identification of political campaign ads before the European Parliament elections in May.

Latvian Saeima supports in second reading sale of tobacco products using price lists

On Thursday, 21 February, the Saeima supported in the second reading amendments to the Law on the Handling of Tobacco Products. These changes state stores will no longer be allowed showcase tobacco products on shelves. Instead tobacco products will be sold using price lists, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Minister: there are several options for acquiring Gazprom’s shares in Conexus

There are several acquisition options for the shares Russian gas concern Gazprom owns in AS Conexus Baltic Grid, says Latvian Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro.

Parliamentary election begins in Estonia with online voting

With Estonia's signature online voting the 2019 parliamentary election has begun on Thursday, offering a variety of advance voting options in the period until the real election day, March 3.

LIZDA: we only want what was promised to us before elections

«We only want what was promised to us before elections,» said Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees chairperson Inga Vanaga in an interview to LTV on Thursday, 21 February, commenting the talks held with government representatives the previous day.

EU-British talks «constructive», while May's party shrinks in UK parliament

Following three British MPs leaving the ruling Conservative Party amid Brexit impasse, British head of government held more talks with the European Union that were constructive according to both Pirme Minister Theresea May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Selection term of CEC chairman’s candidate to be extended

Politicians of the ruling coalition in Latvia have agreed to extend the candidate selection process of the head of Central Election Commission by two weeks.