Lithuania’s Nauseda and Simonyte head to presidential runoff | EUROtoday

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

Lithuania’s president and prime minister will face off within the second spherical of the Baltic state’s presidential vote on May 26 after the incumbent didn’t win an general majority within the first spherical on Sunday.

Issued on: Modified:

2 min

With nearly all of the ballots counted within the Baltic state which was as soon as a part of the Soviet Union, President Gitanas Nauseda was forward with 46 p.c of the vote whereas Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte had 16 p.c.

The election has been dominated by fears over neighbouring Russia and all the primary candidates within the vote agreed the NATO and EU member ought to enhance defence spending to counter the perceived menace.

Nauseda, a 59-year-old former banker, stated he was assured of victory within the second spherical and would require “no strategy” to marketing campaign in opposition to Simonyte.

His rival is a 49-year-old fiscal conservative with liberal views on social points. She notably helps same-sex partnerships, which nonetheless stir controversy within the predominantly Catholic nation.

Opinion polls within the run-up to the vote gave Nauseda a snug lead over the opposite seven candidates, together with Simonyte and outstanding lawyer Ignas Vegele.

Pensioner Aldona Majauskiene, 82, advised AFP she had voted for Nauseda as a result of “he is the best in every category”.

Civil servant Airine, 53, stated she voted for Simonyte and expects much less populism from the longer term president.

“I am not voting for faces, I am voting for those who really can help boost our security and quality of living,” she stated.

Turnout was greater than 59 p.c — the best consequence for the reason that 1997 presidential election.

Simonyte is working for president for a second time after shedding to Nauseda in a run-off in 2019.

“Simonyte is supported by conservative party voters and liberal people, while Nauseda is a candidate of the left in terms of economic and social policy,” Vilnius University analyst Ramunas Vilpisauskas advised AFP.

The Lithuanian president steers defence and international coverage, attending EU and NATO summits, however should seek the advice of with the federal government and parliament on appointing probably the most senior officers.

Defence funds

Lithuania, which has a inhabitants of two.8 million folks, is a high donor to Ukraine and a giant defence spender, with a army funds presently equal to 2.75 p.c of GDP.

The Simonyte-led authorities is anticipated to come back ahead with proposals inside weeks that might assist carry defence spending to a few p.c of GDP.

Lithuania intends to make use of the funds to buy tanks and extra air defence programs, and to host a German brigade, as Berlin plans to finish the stationing of round 5,000 troops by 2027.

The uneasy relationship between Nauseda and Simonyte’s ruling conservatives has at instances triggered international coverage debates, most notably on Lithuania’s relations with China.

Bilateral ties turned tense in 2021, when Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy underneath the island’s identify in a departure from the frequent diplomatic apply of utilizing the identify of the capital Taipei to keep away from angering Beijing.

China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and bristles at something which may lend the island any sense of worldwide legitimacy, downgraded diplomatic relations with Vilnius and blocked its exports, inflicting some Lithuanian politicians to induce a restoration of relations for financial causes.

“China’s reaction to the opening of the office was harsher than predicted, and that sparked the debate,” Eastern Europe Studies Centre director Linas Kojala stated, including that China’s response was hurting native companies.