Lithuania’s main opposition party, the centre-right Homeland Union, appeared likely to win Sunday’s first round of a national election, in what is seen as a backlash to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ handling of the coronavirus crisis.
With about 85% of votes counted, the party, which has roots in the 1980s anti-Soviet independence movement, was in the lead with 23.2%.
The Farmers and Greens party (LVZS), an agrarian grouping that leads Skvernelis’ ruling coalition, was at 18.3%.
More ballots are due to come in from larger cities, the Homeland Union’s main electoral base where LVZS is unpopular.
“It is very likely that the party will be the number one”, Homeland Union chairman Gabrielius Landsbergis told Reuters in his party headquarters in central Vilnius.
Ramunas Karbauskis, LVZS’ leader, appeared ready to concede. “It seems that, after all the votes are counted, we will be number two”, he said.
With the spectre of an extended pandemic ahead, all main parties were careful about outlining their fiscal policy during the election campaign, even though persistent economic inequality is a major voter concern.