Lithuanian Prime Minister and leader of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party Algirdas Butkevicius and his wife cast their ballot at a polling station during parliamentary elections on October 9, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Lithuania’s ruling party of Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius has finished third in the first round of parliamentary elections, raising speculations for a possible change of government in the European Union member country.
The national elections commission said with results in from 90 percent of polling stations, the premier’s Social Democrat Party won 14.7 percent of votes, securing only 13 seats of the 70 seats that were up for grabs in the vote.
The centrist Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union party (LPGU) gathered 22.3 percent of the vote and won 20 seats, while the conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats secured 15 of the 70 seats.
“It was a protest vote against the governing leftist coalition,” said Ramunas Vilpisauskas, director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science in Vilnius.
The final results, however, will come after the other 71 seats are decided in single-seat constituencies on the October 23 run-off vote.
Lithuania’s conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats leader Gabrielius Landsbergis, 34, is trying to become Europe's youngest prime minister. (Photo by AP)
The outcome shows the governing Social Democrats have lost significant support since the last election in 2012. If it continues to lose in the second round, the other parties will likely form a new government through coalition talks.
Opposition parties as well as the ruling party have promised to raise living standards in the Baltic country.
The prime minister had also promised further hikes in the minimum wage and public sector salaries, but he acknowledged “it might be that people want a new party, new faces.”
President Dalia Grybauskaite said earlier she had voted “for changes” in Lithuania. He also pledged to fight emigration and poverty by creating jobs, reforming education, boosting exports and foreign investment.
Lithuania has been plagued with inequality and poverty, although it joined the European Union in 2004, since when, an estimated 370,000 people have left the country of 2.9 million.