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Presidential runoff gains momentum in Lithuania

English.news.cn   2014-05-25 20:40:58

VILNIUS, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Incumbent President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite and her rival Zigmantas Balcytis are competing for presidency in the runoff Sunday.

"I believe in success of Lithuania, and it is Lithuanian people who must bring this success," Grybauskaite, seeking for the second term, told reporters on sunny Sunday morning after casting her vote in Sauletekio polling station, in the capital Vilnius.

Balcytis, who voted in the same polling station, repeatedly said he believed in his own success.

Most analysts quote Grybauskaite's advantage in the first round of elections two weeks ago, when nonpartisan Grybauskaite received 45.9 percent of vote, leaving her social democrat rival Balcytis behind with 13.6 percent of support.

Political scientists also point to the current leader's ability to show her real powers in foreign affairs and defence policy, while Balcytis is being criticized for seeking two posts at the same time.

Balcytis, currently member of European Parliament, is seeking a new mandate in the parliamentary institution of the EU during European elections which takes place together with presidential runoff.

Tomas Janeliunas, a political scientist, professor of Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science, believes that current geopolitical situation, mostly involving Ukraine and Russia, is one of the decisive factors in Lithuanian presidential elections.

"The current context is more favorable for Grybauskaite since she is already acting in this field, she has something to say and show the new decisions by NATO," Janeliunas said in interview with Xinhua.

He admits that, in case of Balcytis' victory, no major foreign or defence policy changes should be expected, since both candidates declare similar values, in terms of stronger cooperation with NATO and deeper European integration.

Zilvinas Silenas, economist and president of Lithuanian Free Market Institute, comments likewise on candidates' economical programs in which they both support introduction of euro in Lithuania and the country's strive for energy independence.

"The basics of programs are the same, none of the candidates is proposing any social or another overturn, which is good," said Silenas to Xinhua.

"I think that purely personal features, willingness of people to vote and mobilization of voters, repugnant to one of the candidates, will be decisive factors in the second round", he added.

Grybauskaite said she was expecting nearly the same voting activity as in the first round because people understand their civic duties.

Balcytis reiterated his belief in his own victory and was expecting minor percentage difference between the two candidates after the vote.

The figures released by Central Electoral Commission (CEC) show that 23.39 percent of voters cast their ballots by 2 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) on Sunday, to compare with 26.96 percent at the same time two weeks ago. Higher turnout is still expected towards evening on Sunday, when people will start coming back home from their weekend activities.

There are 2.55 million eligible voters in the Baltic country.

Polling stations remained open from 7 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) to 8 p.m. (1700 GMT).

Voting for the European Parliament (EP) is taking place together with the runoff on Sunday. Lithuania will elect 11 representatives for the 751-seat EP.

Editor: Xiang Bo
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