Saturday

30th Jul 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.

Opinion

EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law

The situation in Poland shows that democracy, the rule of law and human rights do not speak for themselves. If the Union wants to safeguard its fundamental values, it must create support for them among Europeans.

Merkel faces backlash after killings

The German chancellor faces mounting criticism at home for her refugee policy after asylum seekers carried out several attacks over the last week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey's Democracy
  3. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  4. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  6. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  7. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  8. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  11. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  12. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children

Latest News

  1. EU encouraged car industry to cheat, French report says
  2. Terrorism and migration top EU public's concern
  3. Spain's Rajoy warns of minority rule
  4. Car lobby complained about emissions tampering by others
  5. Critical IMF report heralds new Greek bailout battle
  6. EU free movement must be curbed, UK says
  7. EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law
  8. Merkel: Attacks won't change refugee policy