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Saulius Skvernelis, Gitanas Nausėda and Visvaldas Matijošaitis
© DELFI montažas

Gitanas Nausėda retains the lead in the top three highest rated presidential candidates, with Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis taking respectively second and third place.

This is based on an April 17-26 survey by the public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai commissioned by the Delfi news portal.

According to this survey, G. Nausėda would have the backing of 22.9% of respondents, S. Skvernelis – 12.8% and V. Matijošaitis – 12.2%. The research error margin is 3.1%.

In March the candidates' ratings would have been as follows: G. Nausėda – 22.2%, V. Matijošaitis – 13.9% and S. Skvernelis – 8.7%.

In the April survey, the top three are followed by conservatives – former diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas with support from 6.9% of respondents and MP Ingrida Šimonytė, with support from 5.3%.

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius and MEP Antanas Guoga would receive support from 2.9% of respondents. Former diplomat, conservative MP Žygimantas Pavilionis – from 2.8% of respondents.

Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union leader Ramūnas Karbauskis and MP Naglis Puteikis would be backed by 2.7% of voters each.

MEP Valentinas Mazuronis would receive votes from 1.6% of respondents, European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis – from 1.2% and MP Aušra Maldeikienė – from 1% of respondents.

10.2% of respondents were undecided, while 11.9% would not vote.

Scandals may have feedback

Vytautas Magnus University Social and Political Theory Department professor Lauras Bielinis concluded that there are no premises for major changes among the potential presidential candidates' ratings.

"Not all the figures specified in the ratings have declared their intent to run in the elections, so it's as if we are painting on water, making guesses," he said.

The political scientist did not dismiss that scandals linked to business and political links could adjust the ratings line-up.

"It could cause a sort of drama, but I do not know if they would have a massive impact on any specific candidate. I believe that those at the top of the ratings could fend for themselves. Though, naturally, they would accuse one another and would seek all types of happenstance in their biographies," L. Bielinis said.

According to him, this will occur regardless of whether their names are found in the State Security Department (VSD) reports.

The political scientist mused that during the electoral campaign the candidates themselves may speak of the president's role in combatting oligarchic phenomena.

"The candidates will likely initiate such talks themselves because it is relevant. The president is at least partially responsible for what occurs on the political field," L. Bielinis said.

Presidential elections overshadowed

General Jonas Žemaitis Lithuanian War Academy pro rector for science and studies, professor Jūratė Novagrockienė stated that no major changes can be seen in the ratings because the presidential elections are not yet of interest to the people. The topic of presidential candidates is overshadowed by other issues.

According to the political scientist, the current scandals may only perhaps influence the chances of party – liberal or conservative – candidates.

"The Liberals have chosen their candidate, but I believe that it's not what is on their minds right now," J. Novagrockeinė said.

The political scientist did not dismiss that during the presidential campaign there will be discussions of transparency, anti-corruption links and party financing.

"However, I do not believe that the main political problem, which will arise during the presidential elections is visible just yet. The questioned being mentioned are relevant, but it is unclear to what extent," the expert stated.

No major changes

Spinter Tyrimai head Ignas Zokas highlighted that the shuffle in the lower part of the top three is only formal.

"Considering the error margin it can be seen that the trend remains the same. G. Nausėda is firmly in first place. Second and third are shared by S. Skvernelis and V. Matijošaitis," I. Zokas said.

However, the sociologist points out the situation could change.

"G. Nausėda's voters overlap less than S. Skvernelis and V. Matijošaitis'. If only one of them entered the elections, he would be a strong contender against G. Nausėda," I. Zokas said.

He also emphasised that the electoral campaigning has yet to begin and the real list of candidates is unclear as of yet.

"When it is revealed, then people will seriously begin thinking, who to vote for. With the support of parties or social movements, currently weak-looking candidates could strengthen," I. Zokas said.

Former ambassadors Ž. Pavilionis and V. Ušackas, MEP V. Mazuronis, MPs Aušra Maldeikienė and Naglis Puteikis are the only to have declared their intent to run for president so far. The Liberal Movement has decided to back the candidacy of MEP Petras Auštrevičius in the presidential race.

The presidential elections will be held on May 2019.

The public opinion and market research company Spinter Tyrimai performed a public opinion survey on 17-26 April, 2018 on commission from the Delfi news portal. Residents aged 18 to 75 participated. The survey was performed as a standardized interview.

The survey was performed across Lithuania at a total of 65 survey locations distributed so as to represent the country's entire territory. 1015 respondents were interviewed. The distribution of survey takers is proportionate to the number of residents in the country's regions.

The research error margin is 3.1%.