Lithuanians vote in the second round of a parliamentary election

Other News Materials 26 October 2008 10:44 (UTC +04:00)

Lithuanians began voting on Sunday in the second round of a parliamentary election which could end seven years of Social Democrat rule and usher in a center-right coalition, Reuters reported.

The next government of the Baltic state, a former Soviet republic which is now a member of the European Union, will have to deal with the impact of the global financial crisis and double-digit inflation.

It must also keep a tight rein on the budget deficit as the country eyes eventual adoption of the euro.

The second round will decide 68 seats of the 141-seat parliament in run-offs for single mandate districts. Voting began at 7 a.m. (1 a.m. EDT) and will continue until 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT).

The opposition conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, led by former prime minister Andrius Kubilius, is expected to win about 40 seats in total, but will be left short of a parliamentary majority and face tough coalition talks, analysts said.

The conservatives are set to woo two smaller center-right groups -- the opposition Liberal Movement and the Liberal and Center Union, a member of the outgoing coalition.

Another potential partner is the National Resurrection Party, led by a popular television talent show host, which came a surprise second after the first round.

Victory for the Homeland Union against the backdrop of the global economic crisis would put an end to the rule of Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas' center-left Social Democrats, who came to power in mid-2001.

They came third in the first round and their chances of holding power shrank further as their junior coalition partners, the Farmers Popular Party and the New Union, failed to get into parliament.

Two opposition populist parties -- one led by former president Rolandas Paksas, who in 2004 became Europe's only leader to be impeached, and the other by Russian-born millionaire Viktor Uspaskich, nicknamed the "Gherkin King" after one of his businesses -- won 11 and 8 seats respectively in round one.

Paksas said his Law and Order party may remain in opposition, while Uspaskich said he was keen to support a center-right government.