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Lithuanians Vote for Change, Handing Win to Farmers' Union

  • VOA News

Lithuania's Peasant and Green's Union (LPGU) leader Ramunas Karbauskis speaks to the media after his party prevailed in the second round of voting in the country's parliamentary elections, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Oct. 23, 2016.

Lithuania's Peasant and Green's Union (LPGU) leader Ramunas Karbauskis speaks to the media after his party prevailed in the second round of voting in the country's parliamentary elections, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Oct. 23, 2016.

Lithuanians voted for major change in parliamentary elections Sunday, handing victory to a farmers' union that previously held only one seat in parliament.

The Peasants and Green Union party, led by 46-year-old millionaire farmer Ramunas Karbauskis, is expected to end up with 56 seats in the 141-member Parliament, according to preliminary results provided by the Central Electoral Committee. It is the biggest victory by a single party in 20 years.

The conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats will likely take 30 seats.

The incumbent ruling party, the Social Democrats, would take 18 seats, preliminary results show. The remaining seats will be split among several smaller parties.

Sunday was a runoff election for 68 seats that were not previously allotted after a first round of balloting October 9.

According to Lithuania's election commission, the voter turnout was 38 percent of the 2.5 million eligible voters.

In the first round two weeks ago, the Homeland Union secured 20 seats, closely followed by the Peasants and Green Union party with 19 seats, leaving the current government party in third place with 13 seats.

A local resident walks to cast her ballot at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Vilnius, Lithuania, Oct. 23, 2016.

A local resident walks to cast her ballot at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Vilnius, Lithuania, Oct. 23, 2016.

Lithuanians have been worried about sluggish economic growth, currently at an annual rate of two to three percent, less than half of what it was 10 years ago.

The Peasants and Green Union party had promised a technocratic government focused on economic growth.

"I don't know an area where the current government policy does not need to be changed, except in foreign policy, where we need to have a continuation," Karbauskis told journalists on Sunday evening.

The biggest of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania, regained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the European Union in 2004. Since then, approximately 370,000 people have left the country, with an estimated 50 percent of them moving to Britain.

During the election campaign, the long-ruling Social Democratic-led government and opposition parties promised to raise living wages in the country of 2.9 million, down from 3.3 million a decade ago.

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