Lithuanian Election 2016:the Mainstream Left and Right Rejected by Voters Angry with the Establishment


In the 2016 Lithuanian parliamentary election the established political parties suffered an unexpected andcrippling defeat at the hand of the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union (Lietuvos valstiečių ir žaliųjų sąjunga, LVŽS), a populist one-size-fits-all formation. The traditionalmessage of the establishment parties to take care of the economy, to advance foreign investment and improve business climate did not appealto voters, while the LVŽS made a pointof talking about issues people wanted to hear: the need to tackle social exclusion and poverty; to addresstheprivileged position of big business; to fight endemic corruption; to deal with the underfunding of education and culture. The electoral message of the winner combines the hard left promise of radical change on socioeconomic issues and the far right conservative approachto identity politics, human rights, minority rights, gender equality, and refugees. The LVŽS did its best to look as an anti-establishment, anti-party politics force, a loose and wide amalgam of contrastingpersonalities and contradicting messages. At the same time, the major factor behind the ‘revolutionary’ victory for radical change seems to be the inability of the mainstream parties to sense the change of sentiment of the electorate and to addressthe growing grievances of the public. The Lithuanian anti-establishment revolt is being compared with Donald Trump’s victory in the US, Brexit in the UK, Poland after the last election in 2015, and Hungary under Victor Orban.


Key words:

Lithuanian politics, Lithuanian election, party politics, populism, establishment, radicalism

Delfi (2016). R. Karbauskis gyventojams siunčia netikėtą kalėdinį sveikinimą [R. Karbauskis delivers a surprise Christmas greeting]. (16.02.2017).

Department of Statistics (2017). Population and Social Statistics. Website of Official Statistics, Department of Statistics, Lithuanian Government. (16.02.2017).

Economist (2016). How to make sense of 2016. (16.02.2017).

ELTA (2016). D. Grybauskaitė apie Darbo Kodeksą: mane nustebino visiškas valdžios nužmogėjimas [D. Grybauskaitė on the Labor Code: I am taken by surprise with the total dehumanization of the rulers]. (16.02.2017).

European Migration Net (2016). Migration: 10 years overview. (16.02.2017).

Eurostat (2015). People at risk of poverty or social exclusion. European Commission. Table data retrieved from: (16.02.2017).

Girnius, K. (2016). Pastabos apie populizmą [Notes on Populism]. (16.02.2017).

Inglehart, R. F., & Norris, P. (2016). Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash. Harvard Kennedy School Working Paper No. RWP16-026, Harvard University.

Karbauskis, R. (2016). Užtikrinu – mes nepalūšime ir imsimės pokyčių, kurių Lietuva laukia jau daugiau kaip du dešimtmečius [I assure you we will not succumb and will take on change Lithuania has been waiting for twenty years]. (16.02.2017).

LVŽS programa (2016). Darnios Lietuvos Vyriausybės programa: Lietuvos valstiečių ir žaliųjų sąjungos 2016 m. LR Seimo rinkimų programa [The Program of the Government for Sustainable Lithuania: Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union party election 2016 program]. (16.02.2017).

Ramonaitė, A., & Jastramskis, M. (2014). Vertybės ir įsitikinimų struktūros [Values and Worldviews]. In: A. Ramonaitė (ed.). Kaip renkasi Lietuvos rinkėjai? [How Lithuanian voters make their choice?]. Vilnius: Vilniaus universiteto leidykla, 126-144.

Spectator (2016). Lesson of 2016: if you address people's concerns, "populism" goes away. (16.02.2017).

Vireliūnaitė, L. (2016). Ministrų kabineto lipdymas: kiek iš tiesų įtakos darė prezidentė [The Making of the Cabinet: What is theReal Impact of the President?]. (16.02.2017).

WHO (2014). PSO: Lietuva pirmauja pagal alkoholio suvartojimą Europoje. [WHO: Lithuania leading in alcohol consumption in Europe]. Posted November 29, 2016. (16.02.2017).

Želnienė, L. (2016). Politikos metų įvykis: „valstiečių“ šuolis nuo svajų apie 10 proc. iki pergalės [Event of the year in politics: ‘Peasants’ leaping from 10 per cent dream to victory]. (16.02.2017).


Published : 2017-07-20

ValentinaviciusV. (2017). Lithuanian Election 2016:the Mainstream Left and Right Rejected by Voters Angry with the Establishment. Political Preferences, (14). Retrieved from

Virgis Valentinavicius
Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius  Lithuania

The Copyright Owners of the submitted texts grant the Reader the right to use the pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative Commons 4.0 International License: Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA). The user can copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose.

1. License

The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license ( Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

2. Author’s Warranties

The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.

If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International".

ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).

3. User Rights

Under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

4. Co-Authorship

If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.

I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.