- Title: Centre-right opposition claims victory in Lithuania vote, to start coalition talks
- Date: 24th October 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF DIRECTOR OF VILNIUS UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE, PROFESSOR RAMUNAS VILPISAUSKAS, WORKING
- Embargoed: 8th November 2016 13:27
- Keywords: Lithuania election Peasants and Greens
- Location: VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
- City: VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
- Country: Lithuania
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00455D6G55
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Lithuania's centre-right opposition Peasants and Greens party declared victory after a second round of voting in a general election on Sunday (October 23) and said it would start negotiations with the Homeland Union and Social Democrats over forming a coalition government.
The Peasants and Greens won 54 seats in the 141-member parliament, making it the largest party, results published by the Lithuanian election commission showed.
The result is likely to mean that Lithuania's prime minister will come from a party other than the centre-left Social Democrats or the centre-right Homeland Union for the first time in 15 years.
The start of negotiations between the winning party with the Homeland Union and the Social Democrats to form a coalition are expected soon, but the Peasants and Greens party's leader, wealthy businessman Ramunas Karbauskis, said it was too early to announce any concrete outcome.
"As of today, no decisions were taken. A negotiation is first of all about values, about programs, then about forming a coalition. When the negotiations end, then we will see what positions we have and where we should delegate our representatives," he said.
Algirdas Butkevicius, leader of the Social Democrats and acting Prime Minister, dismissed seeing himself in such coalition.
"I can guarantee that if during negotiations it is decided that our party participates in the ruling coalition, then I would personally not expect to take any seat of responsibility in the new government."
The winning party also ran in previous elections, but its promises of a government of technocrats that would stop the flow of emigrants to richer parts of the European Union have won over many Lithuanians worried about sluggish economic growth.
Growth, currently at an annual level of two to three percent, is less than half of stellar rates a decade ago and there is growing concern the country will not be able to catch up with the richer parts of Europe.
The population has shrunk to 2.9 million from 3.3 million a decade ago.
In the weeks leading up to election, Karbauskis said a Peasants and Greens government would take a more active role in the economy, among other things by creating a monopoly on alcohol sales and establishing a state-owned bank to compete with commercial ones.
He also said his party would not give legal recognition to same-sex couples.
Ramunas Vilpisauskas, head of the Vilnius Institute of International Relations and Political Science, was sceptical and argued the party's manifesto had its contradictions.
"In the election program, Peasants and Greens union talks about continuity of Lithuania's foreign policy. However, there are facts that the head of the party, Mr. Karbauskis has strong business links with Russia and this might create a risk that these links could be used to influence potential policies of a new coalition government, however President Grybauskaite would act, as a stabilising factor, since according to the Constitution of Lithuania, (the) country's President has a important role to play in foreign policy affairs," he argued.
In the streets of Vilnius residents did not see a lot of room for change.
"I do not expect much. The (Peasant and) Greens will need a coalition even if they got a large number of votes," said Vaclovas Palubinskas.
"I think they don't have anyone to nominate," added Marija Golovackaja.
A new government is expected to take over from the current coalition of the Social Democrats, Labour and Order and Justice parties in early December.
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