More show than substance in Lithuania vote
Parliament is the least trusted institution in Lithuania, so the appeal of a fresh face is strong. That is why the host of an "American Idol"-style show may do well in Sunday's election.
Founded by talent show presenter Arunas Valinskas just a few months ago, the National Resurrection Party scored 10 percent in a recent poll of people who planned to vote, which would make it fifth biggest in the 141-seat assembly, reported Reuters.
It would also give the host of "Stars Gate" a seat.
Along with former Lithuanian president Rolandas Paksas -- a stunt pilot and the only European leader to be removed from office by impeachment -- and Russian-born millionaire Viktor Uspaskich -- nicknamed the "Gherkin King" after one of his food businesses -- he will spice up the poll.
But with turnout set to be feeble as this small Baltic state votes in the eye of a global financial storm, the outcome may well seem irrelevant to a population grappling with inflation and heading toward a sharp slowdown.
"It's a dialogue of the deaf and the blind," wrote columnist Vytautas Bruveris recently in daily Lietuvos rytas, saying the parties lack clear positions, particularly about how to tackle the financial crisis or health care and education reform.
Older parties like the Social Democrats, the main ruling coalition partner, and the center-right opposition Homeland Union are struggling for support: inflation has surged this year to peak at 12.5 percent in June, easing slightly by September.
Lithuania's economic growth has remained robust, at 5 percent in the second quarter, but analysts predict it will slow sharply, possibly facing a hard landing as in neighboring Latvia and Estonia.