Former chief economist of SEB Bank Gitanas Nauseda has won the Lithuanian presidential election, convincingly beating ex-finance minister Ingrid Simonyte 65.86% to 32.86% in a run-off vote held on May 26.
Lithuanians voted to elect a new president of their country, which has stayed a firm course on the EU and Nato under the incumbent “Iron Lady” Dalia Grybauskaite.
Nauseda is expected to fine-tune Grybauskaite’s foreign policy legacy, not overturn it. Domestically, he promised to oversee tackling Lithuania’s problems with income inequality, emigration, and the expected slowdown in economic growth.
Nauseda prevailed in the run-off despite Simonyte winning the first round of the election 31.21% to 30.93%. The former chief economist of SEB Bank appealed to voters as less tied to Lithuanian daily politicking and therefore more credible as a candidate with the ability to bridge divides.
Lithuanian presidents do not write domestic policies, in particular economic ones, yet their authority has been enough to exert influence.
Above and beyond the ultimate outcome of the election, it is clear that in picking a candidate of continuation, Lithuania has held against a wave of anti-EU sentiment rampant in many member states.
With the European Parliament poised to see a rise in the number of populist, Eurosceptic politicians, Nauseda is expected to provide at least some counterweight to that in the EU’s system of checks and balances.
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