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2019.05.26 20:13

Polling stations close in Lithuania's presidential runoff and EP elections

BNS, LRT.lt2019.05.26 20:13

Polling stations closed on 20:00 local time throughout Lithuania after voters cast their ballots in the presidential runoff election and European Parliament elections.

The turnout on Sunday was slightly down, 53.43 percent, compared to 57.37 percent during the first round two weeks ago.

The voters are choosing between MP Ingrida Šimonytė, a former finance minister and a candidate nominated by the conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats, and the independent newcomer to politics, economist Gitanas Nausėda to succeed President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

Both got slightly over 30 percent of the vote during the first round of the election and advanced to the runoff.

Alongside the presidential election, Lithuanian voters cast their ballots in the European Parliament elections. Sixteen party and public electoral committee lists competed for 11 seats in the European Union's legislature.

'Boring' campaign

Šimonytė, who came to the ballot box on Sunday, described the election campaign as tactful and even boring.

"As tactful and rather moderate, and perhaps even boring," Šimonytė responded to reporters' question about what she thought about the campaign.

"Many candidates apparently try to avoid giving their opinion on individual matters and discussions on many issues were very vague. Maybe that's OK, I can't say. Maybe this is what people need," she said after casting her ballot in the presidential runoff.

The 44-year-old candidate said her first task as president would be to discuss the makeup of a new Cabinet with the next prime minister.

The candidate said she would go to Poland for her first foreign trip as president and would seek to breathe new life into the Baltic-Nordic cooperation.

Šimonytė also cast her vote in the European Parliament elections and told reporters it was regretful that they failed to attract much attention.

Her rival, Nausėda, voted early on Friday. The economist then said he wanted to win the runoff "to give Lithuania a different impulse", to inspire more trust among the people, more "friendliness, more constructiveness".

"I hope most of the things that are moving slowly or are not moving at all today will get off the ground and we will advance at a quick pace," he told reporters at Vilnius Municipality.

Nausėda had received endorsements from several political parties, including the ruling Farmers and Greens Union whose candidate, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, ended up third in the first round of voting and did not advance to the runoff.

Nausėda, however, downplayed the support of political parties, saying "intermediaries are hardly needed between a candidate and voters".

'Prosperous future'

Prime Minister Skvernelis, who voted in the two elections on Sunday, said he expected the new president to lead Lithuania to a prosperous future.

"It was hard, but I made my choice. Just like most of Lithuanian people who expressed their trust in choosing candidates for the second round, I simply expect a prosperous Lithuania," he told reporters.

After losing the first round, Skvernelis had said he would resign as prime minister, a position he and the party that nominated him later appeared to backtrack.

On Sunday, however, Skvernelis refused to comment on his own political plans and promised to give more answers later.

"I have my plans. When the right moment comes, I'll comment on them," he told reporters.

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