Date: 14 May 2019
Presidential Election in Lithuania: A Conservative Wins the First Round
The first round of the 2019 presidential election in Lithuania has been narrowly won by Ingrida Šimonyte, a conservative candidate and former Minister of Finance. She will now compete for the highest state office with Gitanas Nauseda, an economist and former chief adviser to the President of SEB Bank. Both candidates share similar views, however, it is Nauseda who is considered to be the favourite for the position. The biggest loser of the 2019 presidential election is Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. He came third, which means that, as announced earlier, he is going to step down from office. Regardless of who will eventually be the successor of Dalia Grybauskaite, one should not expect any changes in Lithuania’s current political course, because its main goal is to anchor the country in EU and NATO structures in the strongest way possible and to strengthen its security in the face of a growing Russian threat.
Ingrida Šimonyte, a candidate put forward by the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), won 31.3% of votes. Gitanas Nauseda, an independent candidate, got 30.95% of votes. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, a candidate of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVZS), came third with the support of 19.72% of votes. The voter turnout in the Sunday election in Lithuania was 56.5% of all eligible voters. The second round of the Lithuanian presidential election is scheduled on May 26, on the very same day as the elections to the European Parliament. Both Šimonyte and Nauseda have very similar views. Nonetheless, Nauseda is considered to be the favourite. The majority of the votes which were cast for other candidates in the first round is now expected to work to his advantage, especially the votes of Skvernelis’ left-wing supporters. The Prime Minister has already announced that he is going to resign from office on July 12. The LVZS party announced that it will join the opposition; however, the possibility of holding snap parliamentary elections should not be excluded. Valdemar Tomaševski, the leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance (EAPL-CFA) and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) known for his pro-Russian views, was among the nine candidates who decided to run for president. He came fifth, receiving 4% of votes, mainly in Vilenshchina (the Vilnius region). Tomaševski has run for the Lithuanian presidency for the third time. His election result can hardly be called a success. Compared to the 2014 presidential election, Tomaševski has lost over a half of votes (now he has received about 56,000 of votes whereas previously he got around 109,000 of votes, which was 8.3% of all votes cast).
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On May 12, simultaneously with the presidential election, two referendums on certain changes in the Constitution were held in Lithuania: one regarding the establishment of dual citizenship and the other concerning the reduction of the number of MPs from 141 to 121. However, the two referendums will not be binding. The referendum on dual citizenship is important, because over 52% of the electorate took part in it. Around 72% of people voted for the establishment of dual citizenship. Yet, even over 900,000 of votes is apparently not enough due to the fact that over 1,200,000 of votes are required to make changes in the Constitution. As far as the referendum on the reduction of the number of MPs in the Seimas (the Lithuanian Parliament) is concerned, the voter turnout was too low (over 47%), therefore, according to the Constitution, the referendum is invalid.
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