Saturday

30th Apr 2016

Lithuania election puts pro-austerity PM on way out

  • Vilnius: Lithuania's parliamentary elections look set to unseat Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius ruling party (Photo: FromTheNorth)

Parliamentary elections in Lithuania on Sunday (28 October) look to have unseated Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius' austerity-driven government to make way for a coalition of left-leaning opposition parties.

The vote comes amid a deepening recession and an exodus of young people seeking work in other countries.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Lithuania joined the EU in 2004 with a population of 3.3 million. Eight years later and the population has dropped below 3 million, a first since it broke away from the Soviet Union over 20 years ago, reports Reuters.

The trio of opposition parties, led by the Social Democrats, has promised to reverse the trend and increase government spending in a move to spur the economy and create jobs.

Raising the minimum wage, increasing the tax burden on the wealthy, and delaying euro entry to 2015 were among the opposition's campaign promises.

Exit polls from 94 percent of polling stations on Sunday show the Social Democrats with 38 seats in the 141-seat parliament. Kubilius' Homeland Union Christian Democrats came in second with 32 seats.

But a coalition between the Social Democrats and the left-leaning Labour and Order and Justice parties would give them a total of 79 seats.

Social Democrat leader Algirdas Butkevicius, who is also the party's candidate for Prime Minister, told reporters on Sunday that a coalition partnership is under negotiation.

"Every party has the right to decide they’d prefer to work with someone else and notify the other partners," said Butkevicius.

Kubilius' government is aiming to reduce its deficit in 2013 to below the European Union 3 percent ceiling, down from 9.4 percent in 2009. The country will need to borrow some 7 percent of its GDP next year, or €2.17 billion, in order to refinance its debt.

His government is the first to complete a four-year term in office since the nation won its independence in 1991. He also helped avert national bankruptcy and increased GDP to nearly 6 percent last year.

The country has been struggling with deepening poverty, a 13 percent unemployment rate, and high-energy prices.

Government plans to build a new nuclear power station were also scrapped in a recent referendum. The station would have decreased energy dependence on Russia’s Gazprom but opposition leaders objected to the high costs and have instead vowed to improve trade relations with its former master.

Meanwhile, the coalition’s promise to increase government spending may deepen its deficit, say some critics.

Russian-born millionaire Viktor Uspaskich, who leads the Labour Party, says he may seek to increase the budget deficit above the EU limit.

President Dalia Grybauskaite, who must appoint the new prime minister, has objected to the spending pledges.

European experts to probe Polish police law

The Council of Europe is sending a team to Poland to investigate fears that a new law will give police too much power, as the supreme court weighs into a row over legal reform.

News in Brief

  1. Netherlands funds €1.3mn Russian media project
  2. Fake euros network dismantled in Bulgaria
  3. Inflation negative in eurozone in April
  4. EU economy registers 0.5% growth in first quarter
  5. Eurovision says No to Kosovo, Palestine, IS flags
  6. EU to decide on future of tobacco agreement 'soon'
  7. Russia blames Sweden for frosty relations
  8. UN chief warns of 'growing xenophobia' in Europe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsDigitising European Industry
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  3. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  4. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  5. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  6. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  7. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at The Event: Prospects For EU Enlargement After 2019
  9. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs
  10. Counter BalanceHighway to Hell: European Money Fuelling Controversial Infrastructure Projects
  11. EPSUResponds To Reported €300 Million McDonald’s Tax Bill in France
  12. Access NowAcademics and Privacy Groups Ask Obama to Reject Anti-encryption Law

Latest News

  1. EU fiscal rules, migrants and Belgium's trick
  2. EU should call out Bangladesh on workers' rights
  3. Kosovo: Living in a ghetto on the EU fringe
  4. War crimes law poisons Serbia accession talks
  5. Italy and Austria try to calm tensions on Alpine pass
  6. French MPs call to lift Russia sanctions
  7. EU sides with embattled Greek PM in bailout talks
  8. Former EU commissioners to testify in emissions probe