Centre-right coalition formed in Lithuania

Ingrida Simonyte is expected to become the prime minister.

Ingrida Simonyte
Ingrida Simonyte

The Homeland Union party will lead a centre-right coalition in Lithuania after winning the most seats in the weekend’s parliamentary election.

After two rounds of voting, the Homeland Union won 50 seats and its partners, the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party, got 13 and 11 respectively.

Together they secured a majority with 74 seats, clearing the minimum of 71 seats to be able to form a government.

Former presidential candidate Ingrida Simonyte of the Homeland Union is likely to become the country’s next prime minister, the three parties said in a joint statement.

The outgoing senior ruling party, the Farmers and Greens, won only 32 seats while their supporters – the Social Democrats and the populist Labour party – got 13 and 10 seats respectively.

Virus Outbreak Lithuania Election
The coalition faces economic challenges (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

In Sunday’s elections, 68 seats were up for grabs, while the remaining seats had been allotted after the first round of voting on October 11.

Key challenges looming for the new coalition will be tackling a budget deficit, a growing health crisis and high unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment rose from 9% in February to over 14% in September and the outgoing parliament drafted a 2021 budget with a four billion euro (£3.6 billion) deficit.

On Sunday, Lithuania reported a record high number of new coronavirus cases with 603 and overall the country has had more than 10,000 cases and 134 deaths.

The worsening of the outbreak is seen as likely to have affected voter turnout on Sunday, which was just under 40%, lower than the more than 47% in the first round.

Authorities set up special drive-in polling stations where people were required to wear masks and bring their own pens, which drew more than 7% of Lithuania’s 2.5 million registered voters.

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