News in English

2014.05.26 11:43

Presidential Runoff

Algirdas Acus | LRT2014.05.26 11:43

Lithuania on Sunday votes not only in European Parliament elections, but also in a Presidential runoff where incumbent Iron Lady Dalia Grybauskaute is expected to defeat her rival Social Democratic Member of the European Parliament Zigmantas Balcytis.

 Lithuania on Sunday votes not only in European Parliament elections, but also in a Presidential runoff where incumbent Iron Lady Dalia Grybauskaute is expected to defeat her rival Social Democratic Member of the European Parliament Zigmantas Balcytis.

An independent, although strongly supported by oppositional Conservatives, Grybauskaute is a former EU budget chief. She is famous for her Black Belt in Karate. 58-year-old Grybauskaite won in the first round two weeks ago, scoring 46 percent of the vote.

Her rival Zigmantas Balcytis, supported by governing Social Democratic Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, took just over 13 percent, but surprised analysts by forcing Grybauskaite to compete in the second round.

While Grybauskaite being focused largely on national security, amid concerns over Russia, Balcytis campaigned on social issues, sharply visible after Conservatives austerity policy aimed at tackling the financial crisis (2008-2012).

Promises of fighting poverty, supporting poorer regions and a consensus-oriented approach toward Russia won Balcytis popularity, mostly in small towns and rural areas.

Analysts say Balcytis would gain ground by absorbing the electorates of the five candidates eliminated in the first round, but a majority of votes is still predicted to Grybauskaite.

Grybauskaite urged and then welcomed the arrival of American troops last month as NATO stepped up its Baltic presence.

Both candidates are seen as strongly pro-European and backing the euro zone membership from next January, as well as the liquefied natural gas terminal intended to end the natural gas monopoly exercised by Russia's Gazprom.

NOTE FOR EDITORS: You can also find more detailed profiles of Grybauskaite and Balcytis, as well as a preview item, fed on 05-21 ERNE exchange.

SHOTLIST

Vs of people voting in capital Vilnius

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius and his wife give their vote

Soundbite (Lithuanian)

 ALGIRDAS BUTKEVICIUS, Social Democratic Prime Minister of Lithuania:
 He is a friend of our party, Deputy Leader of our party. He is a politician with an extensive experience on the international scene, as well internal affairs.

Vs of Social Democratic candidate Zigmantas Balcytis gives his vote

Soundbite (Lithuanian)

 ZIGMANTAS BALCYTIS, Social Democratic candidate, member of the European Parliament:

 Of course you will ask who I voted for? (Reporter asks how does he feel after voting for himself?) It is similar to voting for someone else. At the moment the situation is like this. People must have a choice.

Cutaway

Soundbite (Lithuanian)

 ZIGMANTAS BALCYTIS, Social Democratic candidate, member of the European Parliament:
 Of course one of my first works would be a visit to Poland.

Dalia Grybauskaite arriving to vote

Grybauskaite votes

Soundbite (Lithuanian)

 DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE, President of Lithuania, Independent candidate:
 (Reporter asks what her intuition says.) It is not time for my intuitions; let’s hear what our people have to say. (Reporter asks about first works) Let’s wait for Lithuanian people decision. Besides, campaigning is not allowed today.

Grybauskaite leaving

Soundbite (Lithuanian)

 A man with his wife:
We like Dalia Grybauskaite, we voted for her, and we expect from her more than from Balcytis, who probably is more focused on EU than   Lithuania.

Soundbite (Lithuanian)

A man with a child:
I vote for stability. I hope that current policy of the Presidency will be continued further.

Two shots of people who give their vote