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Conservatives wins Lithuanian ballot

Conservatives wins Lithuanian ballot

A conservative party critical of Russia won Lithuania's parliamentary ballot, the Baltic country's election commission said Sunday, signaling the return of a center-right government after seven years of leftist rule.
The Homeland Union led by former Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius won the first round of the vote two weeks ago and extended its lead in Sunday's runoff to capture a total of 44 seats in the 141-member Parliament, the commission said.
The governing Social Democrats finished in second place with 26 seats, losing their grip on power in the former Soviet republic, which joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.
The conservatives are expected to join forces with three smaller center-right parties to form Lithuania's 15th government since breaking free from the crumbling Soviet empire in 1991.
"We will take the responsibility to form a coalition," said Kubilius, a strong critic of Russia who has been stuck in opposition since leading a short-lived government between 1999 and 2000.
Kubilius said he expected to be nominated as prime minister.
"I do not see a reason why I can't be in the position, which I have already worked in during difficult times."
Earlier Sunday, President Valdas Adamkus said that he would offer the prime minister's job to the party that won the most seats.
Lithuanian voters have been exasperated with scandals surrounding the governing Social Democratic Party. They also fear rising energy dependence on Russia, as their country of 3.4 million people closes a Soviet-era nuclear plant next year under an agreement with the European Union.
A conservative-led government would likely inject a fresh boost to economic reforms in the Baltic nation, which after years of stellar growth is facing double-digit inflation and plummeting consumer confidence.
The Homeland Union has suggested forming a center-right coalition with two junior liberal parties and a political upstart, the National Revival Party, which came in third with 16 seats in the election. Together the four parties won 79 seats, enough for a majority in the legislature, according to the commission's vote count.
Arunas Valinskas, a TV personality who founded the National Revival Party, greeted the possibility of a center-right coalition.
"I believe our values, views of the situation and reforms are similar to those of the Homeland Union," Valinskas told reporters.
Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas told supporters of his Social Democrats that he was pleased with the result, despite finishing second.
"This is still a very good result, given the fact that our party was a target of many public attacks and unfair accusations," he said. "Being in opposition is not a tragedy for us."
Central Election Commission Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas said voter turnout was expected to be only 32 percent in Sunday's second round, which included runoffs for 68 seats that were not decided in the first round.


Updated : 2021-02-27 19:04 GMT+08:00