Sun, 16 Jun 2019

Lithuania Chooses New President In Runoff Vote

RFE
26 May 2019, 22:15 GMT+10

Lithuanians are heading to the polls on May 26 to choose a new president in a runoff vote between two center-right candidates.

The election, which is being held alongside the vote for the European Parliament, pits banker-turned-politician Gitanas Nauseda and Ingrida Simonyte, a lawmaker and former finance minister, after the May 12 first round failed to produce a clear winner.

The winner of the presidential runoff will succeed Dalia Grybauskaite, who has served the maximum two 5-year terms as Lithuania's head of state since 2009, a Baltic country bordering Russia that is a member of the European Union and NATO.

The election campaign has been dominated by voters' anger over economic inequality and corruption.

Nauseda and Simonyte have both pledged to maintain a strict tone toward Russia, saying they wouldn't travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin unless the country withdraws from Ukraine's Crimea region.

NATO increased its assets in Central and Eastern Europe, including in Lithuania, following Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

Vilnius faces tense relations with Moscow. The Baltic country has arrested and charged several people in recent months accused of spying for Russia.

Voter turnout was nearly 57 percent in the first round.

The Lithuanian president has limited powers, but is in charge of foreign policy and is the country's representative at EU summits. The president also appoints ministers, judges, the military chief, and central bank head, usually with the approval of parliament or the prime minister.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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