Lithuanians to choose new parliament amid virus tensions

Lithuanian voters will choose a new parliament Sunday for a nation that has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuanian voters will choose a new parliament Sunday for a nation that has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and whose center-right coalition government has faced strong criticism over soaring virus-related unemployment.

The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, the party that leads a majority coalition with three smaller partners, hopes to remain in power in the southernmost Baltic republic. Pre-election polls showed they are marginally ahead of the opposition conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats, the populist Labor party and the center-right Liberal Movement.

The recent sharp rise in virus infections and new restrictions may force many voters to stay at home, affecting turnout among Lithuania’s 2.4 million registered voters. A second round of voting has been set for Oct. 25 in constituencies where no candidate gets a majority.

Supporters of the ruling coalition say this coastal Baltic country was among the lucky ones that suffered relatively lightly in the pandemic. So far Lithuania has seen 5,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and and just above 100 deaths.

Lithuania has kept strong democratic traditions since regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. It has also played a major role as the protests in neighboring Belarus unfold against that nation’s authoritarian leader.

Together with its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania swiftly imposed sanctions against Belarusian leaders, and the European Union — a 27-nation bloc that includes the three Baltic nations — eventually followed suit with sanctions. Belarus is not an EU member.

source.

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