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Lithuanian President Nausėda on track for second term in run-off vote

Published May 26,2024
A man casts his ballot paper during the Lithuanian Presidential elections second round in Pasvalys, Lithuania, 26 May 2024. (EPA Photo)
Ballots are being counted in Lithuania after voters took to the polls on Sunday for a run-off presidential election that pitted the incumbent, Gitanas Nausėda, against current Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.

Results were expected in the coming hours. Nausėda is forecast to hold onto his post with a clear victory over Šimonytė.

Lithuania, which borders the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and Russia's close ally Belarus, saw just under half of its roughly 2.4 million eligible voters cast ballots before polling stations closed at 8 pm (1700 GMT), electoral officials said.

This means that turnout was significantly lower than in the first round on May 12, when Nausėda got the largest share of votes by a wide margin, but not enough to achieve the absolute majority needed to win outright.

The two politicians had also gone head-to-head for the presidency in 2019.

Lithuanians expect the 60-year-old economist, who has made a name for himself as a staunch supporter of Ukraine, to come out on top again for a second five-year term.

Šimonytė, also a trained economist, has been prime minister since 2020. On many issues - particularly foreign and security policy - the two politicians share nearly identical positions.

They differ on issues such as the right to abortion and the recognition of same-sex partnerships. Šimonytė, 49, takes a more liberal stance than Nausėda in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

The presidency is the top job in the Baltic country, and the office represents the country abroad, including at EU summits, and is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces.