Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Lithuania votes to delay EU-brokered nuclear shutdown

DPA , VILNIUS

With most votes counted in the Lithuanian general election, the opposition Homeland Union — Lithuanian Christian Democrats party looks likely to be the largest single party in the next parliament.

Provisional results released by the Central Election Commission show the conservative Homeland Union took 17.87 percent of the vote in the portion of the vote run under proportional representation (PR) rules, giving it 17 of the 70 parliamentary seats decided in this manner.

Voter turnout was better than predicted at around 48 percent.

The performance of the election so far came from the second-placed Rising Nation Party with 14.88 percent of the vote and 14 seats from the PR vote.

Known as the “Showbiz Party” since it is led by television presenter Arunas Valinskas and has received well-publicized support from his friends in the entertainment industry, Rising Nation was only recently founded and something of an unknown quantity.

That lack of a track record seems to have attracted voters disillusioned with the established parties and instantly turns Rising Nation into a crucial new political force that could hold the balance of power when negotiations about possible coalitions get underway in coming days.

Third place in the PR vote went to the Order and Justice party of former president Rolandas Paksas with 13.4 percent of the vote, completing the next step in a notable comeback since becoming the first Eastern European president ever to be impeached in 2004 over claims he had given away state secrets.

The Social Democratic party of Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas trailed in fourth with 12.20 percent and 12 members of parliament.

Andrius Kubilius, leader of the Homeland Union, said: “We’re feeling good, but not celebrating yet because in our experience it’s only halfway down the road.”

“We hope that during the second part voters will decide the same way about our reform plans because Lithuania really needs it,” he said.

Kubilius was referring to a second round of voting to take place within the next two weeks which will decide the outcome in 71 individual constituencies after Sunday’s vote failed to deliver a clear result.

Only after the second round is completed will the shape of the next Lithuanian administration be clear.

However, the populist leaning of the Rising Nation Party could easily lead to a scenario in which the Homeland Union finds itself the largest party but remains in opposition.

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