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Nine candidates are vying to replace two-term independent incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite, but surveys show that only three stand any real chance of making it to the expected 26 May run-off coinciding with European parliament elections. Top contenders include centre-left Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, conservative-backed ex-finance minister Ingrida Simonyte and independent economist Gitanas Nauseda.
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Nauseda, promising to seek the political middle-ground and build a welfare state, scored 31.07% of the vote, according to near complete official results.
Simonyte, 44, a technocrat who also warns against deepening inequality and the rural-urban divide, has vowed to reduce it by boosting growth further. Socially liberal, Simonyte supports same-sex partnerships which still stir controversy in the predominantly Catholic country.
The Prime Minister Skvernelis is going to keep his vow to resign after this failure, signaling that the common electorate is making a mistake by yielding to high-brow public shaming of his party. Next Parliamentary election is scheduled for October 2020.
Both Nausėda (a mainstream economist) and imonytė (a former finance minister) look very similar to the outgoing Grybauskaitė (a former EU finance commissioner), particularly regarding expected EU/NATO/economic/social policies. Nausėda has a better chance, as much of the Soviet generation feels antipathy to the conservatives. On the other hand, Skvernelis called Nausėda a covert conservative this week (and was politely rebuked, of course).
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