Thursday

23rd May 2019

Conservatives ahead in Lithuanian elections

  • The Ignalina nuclear plant is set to close by the end of next year (Photo: wikipedia)

An opposition conservative party is ahead after Sunday's (12 October) parliamentary election in Lithuania, exit polls have shown, but high results for two populist groups pave the way for tricky coalition talks ahead.

The opposition center-right Homeland Union Party was leading with almost 18 percent of the votes, while two populist parties – Order and Justice of Lithuania's impeached former president Rolandas Paksas (13 percent), and the Labour party (10 percent) led by Russian-born millionaire Viktor Uspaskich – got a combined 23 percent in the elections, the Associated Press reports quoting exit polls.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We are ready to take responsibility and expect the president's offer to start forming a new cabinet," Homeland Union Party's leader Andrius Kubilius said after the announcement of the first results.

The Social Democrats of Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas – in power since 2001 – received some 12 percent, but the surprise came from the National Revival Party of reality TV presenter Arunas Valinskas, which got some 15 percent of the votes.

Mr Valinskas hosts a "Music Idol" style talent show and only entered Lithuanian politics a few months ago.

The turnout in the elections was around 46 percent and official results are expected later today.

Russia policy may soften

If a populist coalition led by Mr Paksas and Mr Uspaskich is formed as a result, it is likely to be one that would adopt a tougher stance on the EU and aim to improve relations with neighbouring Russia.

Mr Paksas – who in 2004 became the first European head of state to be impeached and removed from office for having violated the Constitution and abused his powers by favouring a Russian businessman who was his aide – said he was prepared to accept any partners in coalition talks.

"If I had a choice, we would not work together with the conservatives or Social Democrats, who are responsible for this disorder in Lithuania," he said, according to the Associated Press.

"But if voters decide those parties deserve to be in government, we may be negotiating with those parties," he added.

Ignalina debate

The vote in the Baltic state came amid increasing economic decline and took place simultaneously with a non-binding referendum on whether or not to leave the country's nuclear plant Ignalina open longer than planned.

As part of its deal to join the EU in 2004, Lithuania agreed to close Ignalina by the end of 2009. But both politicians and the public fear that this would increase Vilnius' dependence on Russian energy and be catastrophic for the national economy, as a replacement for Ignalina is unlikely before 2015.

However, the popular vote on the nuclear plant could be invalidated, as it did not seem to have scored the required 50 percent turnout, Reuters reports.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Interview

Populists 'could be the opposition parliament needs'

Dutch historian and writer Luuk van Middelaar argues populists could be the new opposition in the next European Parliament and a better reflection of EU public opinion - thus actually reinforcing the body's status.

Timmermans calls for left-wing coalition at debate

The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.

Analysis

As candidates debate, more names surface for EU top jobs

Candidates from EU political families clash at the closely-watched debate in the European Parliament - but the elections themselves, plus lukewarm support from heads of government, could upend previous calculations.

News in Brief

  1. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  2. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  3. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  4. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  5. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  6. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  7. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  8. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us