- The conservatives and two liberal parties together total 74 seats, up from the 71 needed to form a government.
- All three incoming governing parties are run by women.
- Since late September, Lithuania has recorded a significant increase in cases of infection with the new coronavirus.
The center-right opposition won Sunday’s legislative elections in Lithuania, and started talks with two liberal parties for a government coalition. According to official results of the two rounds of the elections, the the Homeland Union party (TS–LKD) topped the poll, with 25% of the vote.
The center-right party, led by Ingrida Simonyte, managed to elect 50 deputies to the parliament, out of the total 141 seats.
Simonyte, 45, a former finance minister, has already started negotiations with the two liberal parties— the Liberal Movement and the new Freedom Party– which elected 11 and 13 deputies, respectively.
The three parties together total 74 seats, up from the 71 needed to form a government. All are led by women.
In addition to Simonyte, the negotiations are led by Ausrine Armonaite, of the Freedom Party, and Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, of the Liberal Movement.
The center-left formation of the Farmers and Greens Union (LVZS), led by the outgoing Prime Minister, Saulius Skvernelis, won 17% of the vote, electing 32 deputies, according to the results.
The parties that supported the outgoing executive, the Social Democratic Party (LSDP) and Labour Party, got 13 and 10 deputies respectively.
In the second round, held on Sunday, 68 deputies were elected, and the rest were chosen in the first round, held on October 11.
During the campaign, the opposition leader accused the prime minister of not preparing the country for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, pointing out a lack of transparency and clarity about “who advises the government.” She also argued that doctors and scientists say they are not being heard.
Since late September, Lithuania has recorded a significant increase in cases of infection with the new coronavirus, after a first phase of the pandemic with fewer infections. However, it still has got a mortality rate below the average of most other European countries.
The prime minister, especially popular with rural low-income voters, campaigned with the promise of fighting social inequalities and creating a new annual benefit for the elderly.
The main challenges for the next Lithuanian government are the reduction of the budget deficit, the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the socio-economic effects of this, namely high unemployment.
Because of the pandemic, Lithuania, a country with 2.8 million inhabitants, saw unemployment increase from 9% in February to 14% in September. The budget deficit increased to €4 billion, according to the State Budget 2021.
On Sunday, election day, the country reached a record number of 603 new cases. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Lithuania recorded almost 11,000 cases of SARS–CoV -2, and 136 deaths associated with COVID -19.
For these elections, the first held in the context of a pandemic, certain exceptional measures were adopted to limit the spread of the disease. These include the mandatory use of masks by voters and respect for social distance in polling stations.