Gitanas Nausėda Re-Elected as President of Lithuania

Gitanas Nausėda Re-Elected as President of Lithuania

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda announced his re-election in a presidential ballot on Sunday, following a campaign dominated by security concerns in the European Union and NATO member which neighbours Russia.

Lithuania, a Baltic nation with a population of 2.8 million, has been a strong ally of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in 2022. Like other countries in the region, Lithuania fears it could become Moscow’s next target.

Preliminary results from nearly 90% of polling stations showed Nausėda, 60, securing approximately three-quarters of the vote, with Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, 49, of the ruling center-right Homeland Union party, trailing behind.

If the final results confirm these figures, Nausėda’s support in his bid for a second term will be the highest since Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Nausėda, a former senior economist with the Swedish banking group SEB and an independent candidate, won the first round of the election on May 12th with 44% of the votes, falling short of the 50% required for an outright victory.

A recent poll by ELTA/Baltijos Tyrimai, conducted between February and March, indicated that just over half of Lithuanians believe a Russian attack is possible or very likely. Russia has consistently dismissed concerns that it might attack a NATO member.

Addressing his supporters in the capital Vilnius, Nausėda emphasised his commitment to enhancing the country’s defence capabilities.

Both Nausėda and Šimonytė advocate for increasing defence spending to at least 3% of Lithuania’s gross domestic product, up from the 2.75% planned for this year.

However, the two have clashed on other issues, including the legal recognition of same-sex civil partnerships, which Nausėda opposes.

He argues that such unions would too closely resemble marriage, which Lithuania’s constitution defines as a union between a man and a woman.

Šimonytė, a former finance minister known for her fiscal conservatism, stated on Thursday that if elected, her administration would maintain a pro-European and pro-Western direction.

The Lithuanian president holds a semi-executive role, which includes heading the armed forces, chairing the supreme defence and national security policy body, and representing the country at EU and NATO summits.

The president sets foreign and security policy in collaboration with the government, has the power to veto laws, and influences the appointment of key officials such as judges, the chief prosecutor, the chief of defense, and the head of the central bank.

Nausėda’s re-election comes at a critical time for Lithuania, as the nation grapples with regional security threats and domestic political challenges.

His victory reflects a strong mandate to continue his current policies, particularly in strengthening national defense and maintaining a cautious stance towards Russia.

The outcome of this election will shape Lithuania’s approach to security, defence, and social issues in the coming years, ensuring its place as a committed member of the European Union and NATO.

Main Image: via Twitter/X

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