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Opposition party does well in Lithuania's election

Opposition party does well in Lithuania's election

Lithuania completed its parliamentary election Sunday, with a conservative party expected to capitalize on voter discontent and return to power in a coalition government after nearly a decade in the opposition.
Sixty-eight seats in the country's 141-member parliament were at stake in Sunday's ballot, which came two weeks after the first round of voting when the conservative Homeland Union finished first with nearly 20 percent of the vote.
Party leaders were confident of consolidating their leading position, given that they had candidates in 45 of the 68 runoff races held in municipalities across the country.
"I see a very good chance to form a ruling coalition, which would be capable to start much needed reforms and would be able to change the country," said Homeland Union leader Andrius Kubilius after casting his ballot in Vilnius.
A conservative-led government would likely inject a fresh boost to economic reforms in the Baltic state of 3.4 million people that joined the European Union and NATO in 2004. But after years of stellar growth, the country is facing double-digit inflation and plummeting consumer confidence.
Kubilius, a former prime minister, said the Homeland Union party wanted to form a center-right coalition without the ruling Social Democrats, who have held the prime ministership since 2001.
Many Lithuanians expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling center-left coalition and were looking for change.
"I voted for Homeland Union in the first round and did it again today because I do not want to see the Social Democrats in government any longer," said Algimanta Juodiene, a retired teacher who lives in Vilnius.
Lithuanians are exasperated with scandals surrounding the Social Democrats and fear rising energy dependence on Russia, especially in 2010 after the country will shut down its atomic power plant.
Still, turnout Sunday was low. Central Election Commission Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas said total turnout was expected to be 32 percent, including 4 percent by mail.
Kubilius has said the party was hoping to win 20 seats Sunday, which would give them the largest presence in parliament.
He said Homeland Union has began talks with an upstart party _ the National Revival Party _ and two center-right liberal parties on forming a coalition.
Arunas Valinskas, a TV personality who formed the National Revival Party that finished second two weeks ago, suggested a center-right coalition was possible.
"I believe our values, views of the situation and reforms are similar to those of the Homeland Union and that we would be able to work together along with two centrist-liberal parties," he told reporters Sunday.
President Valdas Adamkus said that he would offer the prime minister's job to the party that won the most seats.
"I will stick to common political practice when the head of state offers the right to form the coalition to the party that gained the most seats in parliament," he told reporters. "We have to respect voters' will."
Social Democratic party leaders said they were ready to work in the opposition but did not rule out to participate in future cabinet if invited.


Updated : 2021-05-09 19:47 GMT+08:00