2019.05.08 12:44

One candidate hints at pulling out of Lithuania's presidential race

Jūratė Skėrytė, BNS2019.05.08 12:44

MP Naglis Puteikis says he is considering pulling out of the Lithuanian presidential race, but does not know yet which candidate he will support. With ballots for Sunday's vote already printed, that withdrawal would be purely symbolic, an election official notes.

“I think we should discuss it and suggest that myself and (Mindaugas) Puidokas withdraw in someone's favour,” Puteikis told reporters at the Seimas on Wednesday.

Since the ballots have already been printed and early voting began on Monday, Puteikis' withdrawal would be a symbolic gesture. Voters will still be able to vote for him.

“Sunday is the key voting day. Final debates will take place on Friday and candidates aren't banned from campaigning against themselves or in someone else’s favor,” the politician said.

He mentioned Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, philosopher Arvydas Juozaitis and European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis as the candidates he could endorse.

The lawmaker said he had explained his idea to Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LVŽS), the biggest governing party.

“I suggested this to him, because I think that bankers' representatives may make it to the runoff,” he said.

Karbauskis said earlier on Wednesday that he had asked one candidate to pull out in favour of his party's candidate, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

“I've spoken to a candidate and [asked him] to withdraw. I don't know whether or not he'll do so,” he told reporters in Kaunas without identifying the candidate.

Other candidates standing in the election are economist Gitanas Nausėda, MP Ingrida Šimonytė, and MEPs Valentinas Mazuronis and Valdemar Tomaševski.

Laura Matjošaitytė, the head of the Central Electoral Commission, says candidates cannot withdraw from an election at a stage where the final list has been announced and ballots have been printed.

“There's no way back. A candidate could just announce that they are out of the race,” she told BNS.

Lithuania will elect its next president on Sunday. If none of candidates wins at least 50 percent of the vote, the two frontrunners will face each other in the runoff on May 26.

Early voting in Lithuania and abroad started on Monday and will continue through Friday.

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