Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

EU budget commissioner to run for Lithuanian presidency

  • Ms Grybauskaite has a strong chances of winning the elections, according to polls (Photo: European Commission)

EU budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite will be running in the presidential elections in her native Lithunia on 17 May, she announced on Thursday (26 February).

"I can – and I want – to use my experience, my knowledge and my abilities to pull us out of the political and economic shadows," Ms Grybauskaite told reporters in Vilnius, French news agency AFP reports.

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The 52-year-old commissioner, who is seen as the favourite for the top job, said she would run as an independent centrist candidate.

"I want to remain an independent candidate in order to make decisions which are only for the good of Lithuania," she said.

Ms Grybauskaite has been EU commissioner for financial programming and budgets since Lithuania became an EU member in 2004.

She will remain on her post until 17 April – the date of the official launch of the electoral campaign in Lithuania – when she will take a leave from the commission until the end of the elections.

Her announcement comes as the financial crisis has hit the formerly booming Baltic country's economy particularly hard.

Public anger at the worsening economic situation gave rise to a riot outside of the Lithuanian parliament in January, which Ms Grybauskaite said played an important part in her decision to run for president.

An economist herself – and a former finance minister – she said she would put a specific emphasis on internal political and economic issues.

A February poll showed she would outrun current president Valdas Adamkus by 26 to 11 percent, according to the Baltic News Service, with the figures also indicating a possible runoff of the two best candidates on 7 June.

Other candidates confirming that they will participate in the elections included parliamentary speaker and former TV game show host Arunas Valinskas, retired general Ceslovas Jezerskas and independent candidate and chairwoman of the Peasant Popular Union Kazimiera Prunskiene.

Former finance minister becomes Latvia's new premier

Meanwhile, Latvian president Valdis Zatlers on Thursday appointed former finance minister Valdis Dombrovskis as the country's new prime minister, following the fall of the previous government last week.

Mr Zatlers said he had chosen Mr Dombrovskis because the 37-year-old physicist and economist had a majority support in parliament and because of his knowledge in the field of finance and economics, the BBC reports.

Mr Dombrovskis, who is a member of the European Parliament from the centre-right EPP-ED party, is now to hold talks with other political parties on forming a new government.

Latvia's former premier, Ivars Godmanis, resigned last Friday after losing the support of his two main coalition partners and amid strong criticism over his government's handling of the financial crisis. It was the first political casualty in the EU resulting from the crisis.

Latvia was the European Union's fastest growing economy after joining the bloc in 2004, but in the last quarter of 2008 it was the worst-performing one, contracting by 10.5 percent. Its GDP is also expected to fall 12 percent in 2009.

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