Lithuania: run-off vote in presidential election

The race for Lithuania's presidency will be decided in a run-off election between incumbent Gitanas Nausėda and Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. In the first round on Sunday the two candidates prevailed against the pro-Russian candidate Eduard Vaitkus, Remigijus Žemaitaitis - who has attracted attention with anti-Semitic remarks - and the right-wing populist Ignas Vėgėlė, among others. What are the implications for this EU member state with a population of just under three million?

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LRT (LT) /

Take destructive tendencies seriously

Whoever wins the election must reach out to their opponents' supporters, says LRT:

“400,000 votes in favour of Vėgėlė, Žemaitaitis and Vaitkus are not evidence of a second or third Lithuania. They are a warning that cracks are opening up, dissatisfaction is growing and the will to protest is growing. ... That is why the run-off election should not focus on the personal differences between Nausėda and Šimonytė, but on the developing mood and its political expressions in Lithuania. Because in reality this is a sign of protest against democracy and the state. ... We must take the anger, despair and destructive tendencies of a large section of society seriously.”

Delfi (LT) /

Pro-Western no matter who wins

Lithuania's foreign policy will remain unchanged despite the run-off election, political scientist Mažvydas Jastramskis stresses in Delfi:

“The president's most important area of responsibility is foreign and security policy. Overall, there are no major differences between Šimonytė and Nausėda, and that's a good thing. Both candidates support Ukraine, are in favour of a strong role for Nato in the security of our region and are aware of the threat posed by aggressive authoritarian states, especially Russia. ... If your main concern is a foreign policy that is both Western and in Lithuania's interests, then it makes little difference which candidate you vote for.”