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Most influential politicians 2017
© DELFI montage

President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis. They are the three most influential Lithuanian politicians. Both the country's elites and public agree on this trio.

For the third year now Delfi presents its exclusive project Most Influential in Lithuania 2017. A seven part cycle will reveal who the most influential politicians, businessmen/economists, officials/lawyers, news media representatives, public figures, sports and pop culture representatives are. The project will be crowned by a list of the most influential figures in Lithuania overall on September 4.

The project is unique in that the opinions of the Lithuanian elite and public are compared. This means that two surveys were performed, one of the country's elite and another representative and reflecting the opinion of the Lithuanian people.

With the first part of the project we present the most influential politicians in Lithuania. This year holds much intrigue – Gabrielius Landsbergis has surpassed his grandfather Vytautas Landsbergis in the public's eyes, while Remigijus Šimašius is seen as more influential than Visvaldas Matijošaitis by the public.

G. Landsbergis escapes his grandfather's shadow

Based on a survey of the country's elite performed by the journal Reitingai, for the third year in a row President Grybauskaitė remains the most influential politician in the country. Mid-way through her second term, D. Grybauskaitė has maintained first place in surveys and ratings of public opinion.

In second – Prime Minister Skvernelis, third – LVŽS leader R. Karbauskis. S. Skvernelis and R. Karbauskis were in the top ten last year, jumping to the top three this year.

Up fourth is former Supreme Council chairman, the first factual leader of independent Lithuania V. Landsbergis. In fifth place we find former President Valdas Adamkus, who no longer participates in politics. In sixth, up from eleventh place last year, we find G. Landsbergis, the leader of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

Former Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius, member of Seimas Ingrida Šimonytė and Kaunas mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis also reached the top ten. Political newcomer Viktoras Pranckietis takes 11th place.

Compared to last year's survey, the top ten no longer features former PM Algirdas Butkevičius. Having been second last year, following the loss of the posts of Prime Minister and party chairman, he takes 15th place this year.

The respondents also mentioned several influential individuals who did not make it into the list. These include late former President Algirdas Brazauskas, members of Seimas Vytautas Juozapaitis and Asta Kubilienė, as well as the prefect of the Seimas Social Democrat group Andrius Palionis.

R. Šimašius exceeds V. Matijošaitis

It is curious that the top three politicians matched in the surveys of the public opinion and elite.

According to a Spinter Tyrimai public opinion survey, D. Grybauskaitė, S. Skvernelis and R. Karbauskis take the top three places.

According to the public, the list is continued in descending order by former President Adamkus, Conservative chairman G. Landsbergis, his grandfather, political patriarch V. Landsbergis, former Prime Minister Butkevičius, Seimas Speaker Pranckietis, MEP Vilija Blinkevičiūtė and member of Seimas Irena Degutienė.

The duel between the mayors of the country's two largest cities is interesting. Vilnius mayor, Liberal Movement chairman R. Šimašius took 11th place, while Kaunas mayor V. Matijošaitis came in 13th.

Compared to last year's top ten, the list no longer features MEP Rolandas Paksas, former Seimas Speaker Loreta Graužinienė who retired from politics or former Labour Party leader Valentinas Mazuronis.

New ministers not valued

"We can see that if a person does not have an office, they climb the ladder of influence particularly slowly. The people we did not see last year received the posts of ministers, vice minister or high posts in Seimas, shooting up immediately," Gintaras Sarafinas, the chief editor of the journal Reitingai which conducted the survey, said.

At the same time he is puzzled by the low vote count received by the ministers of S. Skvernelis' cabinet. G. Sarafinas observes that this year A. Butkevičius and his cabinet's ratings took a dive.

The expert also commented on certain tendencies in the voting. He explains that there are politicans such as Minister of Foreign Affairs Linkevičius, who have vast influence and are popularly voted for by representatives of various political parties and apolitical people, while there are also other cases such as V. Adamkus, who may have hard to observe influence and little public visibility, but receive votes out of inertia, being seen as an authority in the people's eyes.

"Meanwhile the others receive votes from their party members. If they can give five votes for politicians, they will definitely vote for fellow party members. If this was once done by the Order and Justice, as well as the Labour Party, now it is done by the "Farmers". Nothing new in our country, just the street sign changed, it is a new party, but once again acts similarly. Perhaps people think they have to repay those that helped them enter politics and vote respectively," the chief editor of Reitingai mused.

G. Paluckas still needs to work

"The first positions were likely easily predicted – the leaders of the country and the chairman of the leading party are seen as those with the most influence. V. Adamkus and V. Landsbergis' high rankings are also unsurprising – these are significant moral authorities for a large portion of Lithuanian citizens," public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai head Ignas Zokas commented.

He was somewhat surprised by the especially high position granted to A. Butkevičius by the public. The politician currently holds no significant post, but was voted in to seventh place.

"If we look at it in the light of a clash between party veterans and the new party leader, we can clearly see that Gintautas Paluckas still has much work ahead of him in raising his political weight in the public's eyes. Based on the perceived influence of politicians, he is playing in a completely different weight category to A. Butkevičius or the ever popular V. Blinkevičiūtė.

On the other side of the ideological barricades, in the Conservative camp, the young leader G. Landsbergis has been more successful in establishing his positions and that he, at least symbolically, exceeded his legendary grandfather by one position can be seen as a sign of establishing acknowledgement," I. Zokas said.

He also points out that Viktor Uspaskich, who currently holds no post, also took a relatively high position – 19th. Meanwhile retired Labour Party chairwoman Živilė Pinskuvienė is last. This, the sociologist notes, leaves food for thought for Labour Party members.

"It is somewhat unpleasant to find almost the entire ministerial cabinet at the bottom of the list. I definitely do not believe that the public do not understand the importance or weight of the ministers, just that most of the names, compared to old political heavyweights, are still too "fresh" and if this cabinet lasts, I have almost no doubt that next year its members will take far more respectable places on the list," I. Zokas predicted.

Elite top 30

1. Dalia Grybauskaitė

2. Saulius Skvernelis

3. Ramūnas Karbauskis

4. Vytautas Landsbergis

5. Valdas Adamkus

6. Gabrielius Landsbergis

7. Andrius Kubilius

8. Linas Linkevičius

9. Ingrida Šimonytė

10. Visvaldas Matijošaitis

11. Viktoras Pranckietis

12. Gintautas Paluckas

13. Remigijus Šimašius

14. Gediminas Kirkilas

15. Algirdas Butkevičius

16. Vygaudas Ušackas

17. Aurelijus Veryga

18. Vilius Šapoka

19. Vytenis Andriukaitis

20. Rokas Masiulis

21. Aušra Maldeikienė

22. Povilas Urbšys

23. Artūras Zuokas

24. Rima Baškienė

25. Vitalijus Gailius

26. Raimundas Karoblis

27. Vilija Blinkevičiūtė

28. Eugenijus Gentvilas

29. Žygimantas Pavilionis

30. Irena Degutienė

Public top 30

1. Dalia Grybauskaitė

2. Saulius Skvernelis

3. Ramūnas Karbauskis

4. Valdas Adamkus

5. Gabrielius Landsbergis

6. Vytautas Landsbergis

7. Algirdas Butkevičius

8. Viktoras Pranckietis

9. Vilija Blinkevičiūtė

10. Irena Degutienė

11. Remigijus Šimašius

12. Ingrida Šimonytė

13. Visvaldas Matijošaitis

14. Eugenijus Gentvilas

15. Andrius Kubilius

16. Aušra Maldeikienė

17. Vytenis Andriukaitis

18. Naglis Puteikis

19. Viktor Uspaskich

20. Povilas Urbšys

21. Vytautas Bakas

22. Antanas Guoga

23. Rasa Juknevičienė

24. Vygaudas Ušackas

25. Rima Baškienė

26. Vilius Šapoka

27. Gediminas Kirkilas

28. Petras Auštrevičius

29. Raimundas Karoblis

30. Rokas Masiulis