Lithuania’s centre-right Opposition takes lead in national election

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Lithuania’s main centre-right opposition party led the first round of a parliamentary vote, election commission data showed on Monday, as high unemployment and rising debt hurt the ruling coalition.

The Homeland Union, which has roots in the 1980s anti-Soviet independence movement, led the vote with 24.8% compared with 17.5% for the Farmers and Greens party (LVZS), an agrarian group that leads the coalition of Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

Although a second round of voting could shift the balance again, the leader of LVZS acknowledged his party might be heading out of government as none of his coalition partners reached the 5% of votes needed to secure seats in parliament.

“Working in opposition could be easier than in the government, and the salary is same either way,” Ramunas Karbauskis told reporters on Monday, a day after the vote.

Lithuania’s economy has fared better than some European Union states in the coronavirus crisis, but the prime minister has faced criticism for failing reduce unemployment, mounting debt and not doing enough to prevent a new surge in coronavirus infections.

Four other parties collected more than 5% of the vote, securing seats in Parliament.