Tue, Oct 28, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Lithuania installs conservative party critical of Russia


A conservative party critical of Russia won Lithuania’s parliamentary ballot, the Baltic country’s election commission said, signaling the return of a center-right government after seven years of leftist rule.

The Homeland Union led by former prime minister Andrius Kubilius won the first round of the vote two weeks ago and extended its lead in Sunday’s runoff to capture a total of 44 seats in the 141-member parliament, the commission said.

The Social Democrats finished in second place with 26 seats, losing their grip on power in the former Soviet republic, which joined the EU and NATO in 2004.

The conservatives are expected to join forces with three smaller center-right parties to form Lithuania’s 15th government since breaking free from the crumbling Soviet empire in 1991.

“We will take the responsibility to form a coalition,” said Kubilius, a strong critic of Russia who has been stuck in opposition since leading a short-lived government between 1999 and 2000.

Kubilius said he expected to be nominated as prime minister.

“I do not see a reason why I can’t be in the position, which I have already worked in during difficult times,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said that he would offer the prime minister’s job to the party that won the most seats.

Lithuanian voters have been exasperated with scandals surrounding the governing Social Democratic Party. They also fear becoming more dependent on Russia for energy, as their country of 3.4 million closes a Soviet-era nuclear plant next year under an agreement with the EU.

A conservative-led government would likely inject a fresh boost to economic reforms in the Baltic nation, which after years of stellar growth is facing double-digit inflation and plummeting consumer confidence.

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