Election Results in Lithuania

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On Monday, May 13, Lithuanian National Radio and Television announced: the voting is over, but the election is not. What were the results of the May 12 election?

Opinion polls showed the incumbent, Gitanas Nausėda, was clearly in the lead. If there was any suspense, it was about whether he could win in the first round and, if not, who would be his rival in the runoff. “Tepid” and “boring” were the descriptions observers used for the presidential election campaign, noting how few billboards there were on the streets or TV ads on the air.

Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė – whose conservative government has been in a state of constant strife with the president – and Ignas Vėgėlė, a lawyer who made his name during the Covid-19 pandemic as an opponent of the government’s quarantine and vaccination policies, were the main contenders for the second spot. Few thought anyone beyond the three stood a realistic chance of mounting a serious challenge. Rather, the presidential campaigns were their springboards for the two other elections this year: the European Parliament in June and the national parliament, Seimas, in October.

Some deem their campaigns a success: Remigijus Žemaitaitis, who recently quit his MP seat to avoid impeachment and founded a new party, the Dawn of the Nemunas, can certainly celebrate his better-than-expected performance. Vėgėlė, meanwhile, appears to have lost some of his lustre as the anti-mainstream candidate. However, he received the endorsement of the Farmers and Greens Union, which is currently the second-biggest parliamentary party, and may be looking at a spot in their electoral list in October.

Dainius Žalimas, the former Constitutional Court chairman who was nominated by the liberal Freedom Party, secured the top spot on its EP election list, despite not being a party member. Giedrimas Jeglinskas finished dead last on Sunday, but is also looking at a promising career with the Democrats “For Lithuania” which is very likely to be in the next governing coalition.

Nausėda and Šimonytė are facing one another in the runoff on May 26, just like five years ago, and barring some extreme event, there is no reason to expect a different outcome. Nausėda is looking to win re-election with a comfortable margin. Just like last time, Gitanas Nausėda and Ingrida Šimonytė will face each other in the second round of Lithuania’s presidential election on May 26.

With almost all votes counted, Nausėda received just over 44 percent of the vote in the first round of voting on Sunday, and Šimonytė garnered nearly 20 percent.

“Yes, I wanted to win in the first round, but apparently we’ll have the runoff. I am ready to make a strong push for victory in the runoff and I think I will succeed in doing so,” Nausėda told reporters on Sunday night.

In 2019, the two rivals were more evenly positioned as they both got around 31 percent of the vote in the first round of voting. In Sunday’s first round, Nausėda, who is seeking re-election for a second term, got more than 50 percent of the vote in almost all municipalities except Vilnius, where Šimonytė won. This year, eight politicians were running for president.

According to the latest figures from the Central Electoral Commission (VRK), lawyer Ignas Vėgėlė came third nationwide with 12 percent, followed by Remigijus Žemaitaitis, leader of the Dawn of the Nemunas party, with 9 percent, Vaitkus with 7 percent, lawyer Dainius Žalimas with 3 percent, Labour Party leader MP Andrius Mazuronis with 1.4 percent, and former vice minister of defence Giedrimas Jeglinskas with 1.35 percent.

“I would like to thank the people of Lithuania, who have expressed their trust in me after five really difficult years that we have lived together, when even in the face of very serious problems, critical challenges, we still thought about the future,” said Nausėda on Monday morning. He said Lithuania has achieved a lot in the last 20 years and is moving towards Western standards of living, although inequality is still too high.

The conservative candidate thanked the voters who turned out for the presidential elections and the referendum. Šimonytė said that the results show that a large part of the population, who chose her in the 2020 Seimas elections, showed that they still trusted her and preferred the vision of Lithuania she presented. “However, I have managed to achieve that people who vote for a western Lithuania, where there is no place for conspiracy theories, homophobia, or any other things that are no credit to us, things that do not correspond to the principles of liberal democracy, will definitely have someone to vote for in the second round.”