Monday

4th Mar 2024

EU commissioner elected president in Lithuania

  • Dalia Grybauskaite (Photo: European Commission)

EU budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite has won the presidential elections in Lithuania with an overwhelming majority, becoming the first female head of state as the country struggles through its worst economic recession since the early 1990s.

"The taste of victory carries with it the weight of responsibility," Ms Grybauskaite told reporters on Sunday night at her election headquarters in Vilnius.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Ms Grybauskaite, who stood as an independent, won over 69 percent of the vote, while her nearest challenger came in second with only 12 percent, according to official results announced on Monday.

Her EU-background and straightforward talk seemed to convince voters, with over 51 percent of them going to the ballot box.

As Lithuania's first female president, Ms Grybauskaite, who also holds a black belt in martial arts, will be able to veto the country's budget and fire ministers, but otherwise will have limited executive powers.

The president's main power lies in foreign policy and here she has promised to be less confrontational, especially towards Russia.

So far, she has signalled approval for the government's austerity measures, as the economy shrunk by over 12 percent in the first quarter, although she said some tax rises have been a mistake.

Frustration turned into violence in January when demonstrators smashed windows in the parliament building in Vilnius. It was at this point that Ms Grybauskaite decided to run for presidency.

Her duties as budget commissioner are currently being carried out by Siim Kallas, her audit and anti-fraud colleague.

The Lithuanian government will have to decide whether it appoints someone new or lets Mr Kallas carry on her tasks until the end of the Barroso commission, whose mandate expires on 31 October.

After Ms Grybauskaite's inauguration on 12 July, the government has to resign and be re-appointed.

She is expected to re-approve conservative Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, head of a four-party centre-right coalition, but has said she would use her powers for a reshuffle. "We shall see which ministers remain in office...," she told reporters.

Analysis

Almost 20 names in running for EU top jobs

With four months until the European Parliament elections, there are already some 20 names in the hat for the ensuing reshuffle of EU top jobs.

EUobserved

New government in Belfast is much ado about not much

The deal to restore Northern Ireland's government — after nearly two years — is being spun as a major triumph. But not much has changed. This is an exercise in fine-tuning and political window-dressing.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.

Latest News

  1. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  2. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  3. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  4. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  5. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  6. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  7. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  8. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us