[QODLink]
Europe
Lithuanians vote in second round of election
Left wing and populist opposition parties expected to form next government after success in first round two weeks ago.
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2012 08:49
Kubilius' four-year-old Conservative government has failed to reap the rewards of a recovery with voters [AFP]

Lithuanians are voting in national elections, two weeks after austerity-weary voters evicted a centre-right coalition in the first round of a general election.

Left wing and populist opposition parties were on course to form the next government provided they win the run-off ballot which opened at 05:00 GMT on Sunday.

Lithuania's 3.3 million inhabitants face an unemployment rate of 13 per cent and declining living standards, as well as high energy costs since the country closed its Soviet-era nuclear power plant in 2009.

With just 73 of the seats in Lithuania's 141-member parliament having been won in the first round, the run-off is crucial for a trio of parties as they seek to raise their clout within the likely coalition.

Two centre left parties, the Labour Party and the Social Democrats, finished first and second in the first round, while the governing Conservatives, unpopular for cutting pensions and public wages had come third.

Labour's first-round tally was 18 and the Social Democrats' 16, while the populist Order and Justice earned six, making a total of 40, meaning they may need to bring a fourth ally on board to hit the minimum majority of 71.

Immediately after the first round, the two left-leaning parties launched talks on forming a coalition with the Order and Justice party.

But they have yet to strike a formal deal, pending the results of Sunday's ballot.

Austerity measures

Lithuania's parties have struggled repeatedly to form stable coalitions in the two decades since the republic seceded from the Soviet Union.

The Conservatives under Andrius Kubilius who have been in power since 2008, garnered 13 seats in the first round. The tally of their governing allies from the Liberal Movement was seven.

Kubilius' government brought in a series of draconian austerity measures much wider in scope than measures adopted in western members of the European Union, which Lithuania joined in 2004.

The economy initially shrank by 14.8 per cent before growth returned in 2010, at 1.4 per cent, before hitting six per cent in 2011.

However, the upturn failed to woo voters, too few of whom felt the benefits of recovery and the pace slowed to a forecast 2.5 per cent this year.

357

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list