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New Lithuania Poll: Economic Anxieties Dominate Prior to COVID-19 Outbreak

July 1, 2020

Vilnius, Lithuania— The latest nationwide survey of Lithuania by the International Republican Institute’s Center for Insights in Survey Research reveals concerns over the economy, but split opinions on whether a political alternative is needed.

“Even before the onset of COVID-19, most Lithuanians viewed the state of the economy as the most important problem facing their country, despite strong growth compared with neighboring countries,” said IRI Senior Director for Transatlantic Strategy Jan Surotchak. “The pandemic has surely exacerbated this trend – making it crucial for political party leaders and government officials to address these concerns.”

When asked to identify the most important problem facing Lithuania today, the majority of respondents cited economic concerns such as the cost of living/high prices (35 percent); unemployment (10 percent); the economy in general (four percent); small business opportunities/access to loans (three percent); and low wages (two percent). Although most Lithuanians found the EU’s impact to be positive across several categories, a substantial minority of respondents said the EU's impact on the price of goods and services was negative, with 29 percent of respondents saying it had a "somewhat" negative (22 percent) or "very" negative (seven percent) impact in this area.

The country is evenly split between those who would like to see political alternatives in future elections (49 percent) and those who disagree that political alternatives are needed (48 percent). Young people aged 18 to 29 are more interested in political alternatives than older generations, with 61 percent supporting the emergence of new political parties to combat the country’s problems.

Despite Lithuania’s economic issues, the country remains one of the few NATO members meeting its commitment to spend at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense. When asked if Germany should increase its own defense spending to at least 2 percent, 64 percent of Lithuanians agreed.

“Lithuania – which is a fraction of Germany’s size and affected by persistent economic challenges – has nevertheless prioritized defense spending and actually exceeds NATO requirements,” said Surotchak. “Though most Lithuanians view NATO favorably, sustaining this opinion will require all members to honor their commitments.”

Methodology

The survey was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by Nortsat Esti AS between January 7 and 26, 2020. Data was collected through in-home, in-person interviews with 1,007 Lithuanian residents. The response rate was 51 percent and the margin of error for the full sample was plus or minus 3.1 points at the 95 percent confidence level. A multistage probability sampling method was used, and the sample was weighted for county, urbanicity, gender, age, nationality and educational attainment level.