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Lithuanian Voters Elect Parliament Sunday - 2004-10-09

Lithuanian voters go to the polls Sunday as public opinion polls indicate a newly-founded party headed by an ethnic Russian businessman is likely to emerge as the largest group in parliament.

The Labor Party, headed by charismatic millionaire businessman Viktor Uspaskich, is expected to win about a third of the seats in parliament. It drew major support from rural areas left behind as prosperity grew in the major cities.

Polls indicate the current ruling Social Democratic-Social Liberal coalition coming in second, followed by the Conservatives and Liberal Center Union.

The Labor Party has joined other leading groups in signing a declaration pledging to maintain the country's pro-western policy.

Final results are not expected until after October 24 when a second round ballot will be held in constituencies where no candidate received more than half the vote.