Lithuanians vote in a presidential election as anxieties rise over Russia and the struggle in Ukraine | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Lithuanians are casting votes in a presidential election on Sunday at a time when Russian positive aspects on the battlefield in Ukraine are fueling better fears about Moscow’s intentions, notably within the strategically vital Baltic area.

The standard incumbent, Gitanas Nausėda, is favored to win one other five-year time period in workplace. But there are eight candidates working in all, making it tough for him or another candidate to muster the 50% of the votes wanted to win outright on Sunday. In that case, a runoff will probably be held on May 26.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and shut 8 p.m. (1700 GMT). Results are anticipated late Sunday night time.

The president’s fundamental duties in Lithuania’s political system are overseeing overseas and safety coverage, and appearing because the supreme commander of the armed forces. That provides significance to the place within the comparatively small nation on condition that it’s situated strategically on NATO’s jap flank as tensions rise between Russia and the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea is sandwiched between Lithuania to the north and east, and Poland to the south. There is nice concern in Lithuania, and in neighboring Latvia and Estonia, about Russian troops’ newest positive aspects in northeastern Ukraine.

All three Baltic states declared independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union and took a decided westward course, becoming a member of each the European Union and NATO.

Nausėda is a reasonable conservative who turns 60 per week after Sunday’s election. One of his fundamental challengers is Ingrida Šimonytė, 49, the present prime minister and former finance minister, whom he beat in a runoff in 2019 with 66% of the votes.

Another contender is Ignas Vėgėlė, a populist lawyer who gained recognition in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic opposing restrictions and vaccines.

A referendum can also be on the poll Sunday. It asks whether or not the structure needs to be amended to permit twin citizenship for lots of of hundreds of Lithuanians dwelling overseas.

Lithuanian residents who undertake one other nationality at the moment should hand over their Lithuanian citizenship, which does not bode effectively for the Baltic nation whose inhabitants has fallen from 3.5 million in 1990 to 2.8 million right this moment.

For the primary time, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe turned down an invite by Lithuania to watch the election.

The Lithuanian authorities wished to exclude displays from Russia and Belarus, accusing the 2 nations — each members of the 57-member group — of being threats to its political and electoral processes.

The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights stated Lithuania was breaking the foundations it signed as much as when it joined the group. It stated observers don’t characterize their international locations’ governments, that they have to signal a code of conduct pledging political neutrality and in the event that they break the foundations they’re now not allowed to proceed as observers.