Accessibility links

Breaking News

Lithuanian President to Face Runoff in Re-election Bid - 2002-12-23

Preliminary election results Monday morning indicate that Lithuanian president Valdus Adamkus will face a runoff in January in his re-election bid.

The Lithuanian President received about one-third of the vote during the first round of the presidential elections on Sunday, putting him ahead of the rest of the field.

But he needed more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second round.

On January 5, Mr. Adamkus will face former Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas in the second round of voting. Mr. Paksas is the former mayor of the capital city of Vilnius and an avid pilot who often performs stunts in the air. He came in second with about 20 percent of the vote.

Mr. Paksas campaigned heavily for the presidency on a platform of improving living standards for all Lithuanians. He said after the first round of voting that he is sure he'll win the second round.

But Mr. Adamkus is favored to win his second five-year term as president. Part of the reason is that he is credited with leading the country into NATO and the European Union.

Last November Lithuania received an invitation to join NATO, and in December the country finalized membership talks with the European Union. Before Mr. Adamkus became president the country was often viewed as trailing behind its Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Latvia.

The Lithuanian president is a former U.S. citizen who fled Lithuania when it was taken over by the Soviets during World War II.

He returned to his homeland after the fall of the Soviet Union and won his first term as president in 1998.

There was a record-low turnout for Sunday's election. A little more than 50 percent of the country's 2.7 million eligible voters cast ballots in the election.