Monday, March 31, 2008

March 2008 polling data

For which party you would vote, if Saeima elections would take place tomorrow? (Latvian citizens)

"Diena" published "Latvijas Fakti" latest gallups today. The pollster clearly outlines the trend leading to the end of the Godmanis government. While the PM is touring Sweden, and meeting Telia-Sonera and Swedish government officials with half baked assurances about possibility to build coal powered station and willingness to extend elctricity cable to Sweden, the situation is heating up home. The green, yellow and red lines in the graph above you show the undecided voters, supporters of opposition, and finally fans of coalition parties accordingly. It seems that by the choice of red color the authors of pollster are ironically pinpointing to the zone Latvian governing coalition happens to be endemically in.

In January the governing coalition was able to rise their approval ratings above the slump where the former PM Kalvītis had led the government. Latest trends, however, show that 2 out of 5 voters are undecided, almost 2 voters out of 5 would vote for opposition, and 1 out of 5 trusts present governing elite. In short, the government of Ivars Godmanis definitely will be short lived and the only question is whether the government would fall already this Spring or later this Summer? Linda Mūrniece (JL) in her blog reiterates rumours whirling in Saeima about not giving the PM more time than couple or four months. One of the JL heavyweights Mr Dans Titavs is spreading news that opposition JL could actually work together with TP, thus creating another storm in the Latvian political teacup. In order to understand where do Latvian political parties stand now, there is another graph from "Latvijas Fakti".

For which party you would vote, if Saeima elections would take place tomorrow? (Latvian citizens)

There are actually two very interesting parts on the graphs. First one is at the very end of the graph showing the percentage of undecided and disillusioned (nav izlēmis and nepiedalītos vēlēšanās) voters. The second interesting point is consists of three different trends, and certainly correlates to the simultaneous increase and decrease of the undecided and disillusioned voters. First, if one has a look on New Era (Jaunais Laiks) support then one may notice that it is collapsing. Second, the support for the biggest left wing and russophone party Reconciliation Centre (Saskaņas Centrs-SC) is steadily leading polls. And finally, the support for newly created organizations (they are still not official parties yet!) Kalniete & Kristovskis "Conservative Democrats" is steady, and Pabriks & Štokenbergs "Centre Party" support is rising.

What do I conclude from those graphs is that lack of clear ideologies is simply disorienting voters in Latvia. While the number of undecided (swing) voters decreases due to "new kids on the block", the number of disillusioned voters (who would definitely not go to elections) is increasing. Reason for that?

Many voters in Latvia unfortunately believe that politics shouls be morally sound as in the "West", and previous reasearch of A.Tabuns and T.Tīsenkopfs attest to that. Thus, instead of mutually working for betterment on ideological clarity of party programs there is still endemically low membership rate in political parties and also party leaderships follow the "iron rule of oligarchy" first pronounced by Gaetano Mosca.

Ethnic Latvian parties are still scrambling for spoils in the right wing. In the meantime the globalisation impact, trade liberalization, and transformation of economic system has increased voters appeal for liberal and leftist worldview. This political niche in ethnic Latvian political landscape is empty however, and it clearly correlates to the leadership of left wing SC on the top of the polls. The fact that leftist politics is led by russophone party in Latvia does not allow traditional ethnic Latvian voter to go after it, and unfortunately the ethnic divide makes the policy making as ridiculous as it is today.

Even though proposal of forming joint JL&TP government (such possibility was uttered by Dans Titavs(JL) and Gundars Bērziņš (TP)) sounds ideologically sound, it would be hard to salvage the lack of trust that has stagnated below 20% support of the electorate. Transfiguration of Latvian political landscape is ongoing. I would predict several unexpected surprises ahead of us in short term, and ironically the fall of the existing government would be the least surprising.

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