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Lithuanians vote in first round of elections

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Lithuanians headed to the polls on Sunday for the first round of parliamentary elections, with the ruling four-party centre-left coalition in a tight race with opposition conservatives. 

DW reports that voters will choose 141 national lawmakers. Pre-election polls show Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ Farmers and Greens Union marginally ahead of the conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats, the populist Labor party and the center-right Liberal Movement.

Talks on forming a new coalition after the election are expected, with five or six parties expected to cross the 5% threshold to enter the Seimas assembly. None is likely to receive more than 20% support. 

If re-elected, Skvernelis vows to set up state-owned pharmacies nationwide and introduce an annual “13th pension” cash bonus for senior citizens. His rival, ex-finance minister Ingrida Simonyte, has accused the prime minister of running a disorderly and populist government. 

The opposition are set on bridging the economic and educational divide between the country’s rural and urban residents.

All of the major parties back the European Union and NATO and support neighbouring Belarus’s democratic opposition. 

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