People in Lithuania are heading to the polling stations to cast their ballots in the first round of parliamentary elections.
Nearly three million people are expected to vote to elect members of the 141-seat parliament.
A total of 16 political parties are participating in the elections, but only five to eight parties are expected to pass the five percent threshold to enter the parliament, signaling complicated coalition talks.
Opinion polls show that Lithuania’s ruling Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, which has 5.6 percent support, is likely to take the lead.
In case the leftist party does not win the elections, the opposition Homeland Union led by Gabrielius Landsbergis is likely to win power.
The centrist Lithuanian Peasant and Green’s Union (LPGU) would take 14 percent, while the conservative Homeland Union enjoys 13.7 percent backing, local polls indicate.
Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius speaks to the media during general elections in Vilnius, Lithuania, October 9, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Polling stations will close at 8 pm (1700 GMT). A second round will be held on October 23 in constituencies where no candidate wins a majority of votes.
Wage growth and job creation have been key rallying cries for candidates in the eurozone state, plagued by an exodus of workers seeking higher wages, many of them in Britain.
Lithuania’s per capita income increased to 75 percent of the European Union (EU)’s average last year from 50 percent in 2004, when it joined the bloc. But growth has since stagnated.

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