Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite faces a second runoff after falling shy of the 50% of votes needed to clinch a second term in Sunday’s presidential election, which was dominated by concerns about neighboring Russia and the Baltic nation’s exposure to the Ukraine crisis. With 100% of votes counted, Ms. Grybauskaite, currently in her first five-year term as president, had collected 46.6%. Her closest rival, a Social Democrat member of the European Parliament named Zigmantas Balcytis, had 13.8%, according to results released by Lithuania’s election commission Monday. The two will face off in a second round of elections on May 25 alongside European Parliament elections. Ms. Grybauskaite, a staunch independent and former EU commissioner known as a hard-nosed critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been vocal in her opinion that Ukraine should forge deeper alliances with the West. Her anti-Putin rhetoric boosted her popularity in the latest elections, according to polls published by Lithuanian media.
During a news conference Monday, she said her independence should be a key selling point in the runoff. Her opponent, like the country’s prime minister, is a Social Democrat, and Ms. Grybauskaite warned of too much power being consolidated in one party.
Ethnic Russians make up a smaller percentage of Lithuania’s population than in nearby Latvia and Estonia. But Lithuania’s economy remains heavily tied to Russia and is entirely dependent on it for natural gas. Ms. Grybauskaite has been appealing for potential alternative sources—including from the U.S.—to help diversify supply.
Full Article: Lithuania President Faces New Election Runoff – WSJ.com.