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Lithuania - Election 2016 - Seimas

On 09 October 2016 Lithuania closed the doors of polling stations and began the counting of votes in the parliamentary elections. Despite the widely perceived rise in the level of threat and mounting provocations from Russia over the past several years, national security and defense questions are not considered key election issues. According to Lithuanias legislation, 70 lawmakers would be elected in a nationwide constituency under a proportional system, and 71 lawmakers in single mandate constituencies under a majoritarian voting system.

A total of 43.21% of voters voted, and with 6.68% of early voters, the figure was 49.90%. Note that according to the available data on this point, the turnout was slightly less than last time, in 2012 - 44.62% then voted on election day, and the final turnout was 52.93%. According to Lithuanian law in a multi-district elections are considered valid if more than one-fourth of all voters participated in them. The total number of registered voters was 2,504,267. Voting in embassies abroad registered more than 13,000 Lithuanian citizens.

Twelve parties took part in the elections independently, the four parties formed two coalitions. To enter parliament, the party must overcome the five percent barrier for the coalition he is above - 7%. According to opinion polls, the results of which were presented at the end of September 2016, the ranking of the ruling Social Democratic Party, was 15.6%, of the Union of peasants and "green" - 14%, the opposition "Fatherland Union - Christian Democrats" - 13.7%, Labour Party - 5.2%, the Liberal Movement - 5%, the party "Order and justice" - 4.9%, the Anti-Corruption coalition and Naglis Puteykisa Kristupas Krivitskasa - 4.6%, "the Electoral action of Poles in Lithuania - the Union of Christian families" - 4, 2%, "the Lithuanian Union of freedom" - 2.5%. The election was also attended by the Lithuanian People's Party, Liberal Union Party "Lithuania's List", the Green Party, "The path of courage," coalition "against corruption and poverty." In the elections to the Seimas ran for more than 1,400 candidates, about ten candidates per seat.

Although the campaign formally started on 9 April with the announcement of elections, it was mostly low-key and only became more visible closer to election day. Many stakeholders opined that this resulted, in part, from tighter regulation in a number of areas as compared to the last parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, contestants did not raise any concerns as to their ability to campaign freely and underscored that fundamental freedoms were respected. Paid political advertising in the media was one of the main campaign tools. Billboards, posters, and leaflets were also produced and social media were extensively used.

While voters had a broad range of contestants to choose from, it was widely acknowledged that political parties do not always have clearly distinct ideological positions and that the traditional leftright divide is blurred. Campaign topics that featured prominently included low wages, social issues, labour emigration, and political corruption. Questions concerning countrys energy policies were also discussed. Issues related to women were addressed only by a few parties, focusing mainly on familyrelated policies. Positively, the platforms of nearly all major political parties included sections for the enhancement of opportunities for people with disabilities.

With no major mobilizing issue or charismatic person in the race, observers expected more of the same. But the Social Democrats' role in adopting a new labor code that made it easier to hire and fire employees was unpopular among voters. The average wage in Lithuania is a little over 600 euros ($670) per month after tax, one of the lowest levels among EU members. Inequality and poverty remains relatively high.

Lithuanian voters showed widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling leftists in the first round of parliamentary elections that witnessed the opposition centrists and conservatives surge, near full results showed. The centrist Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union party (LPGU) and conservative Homeland Union tied at 21.6 percent of the vote, with Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius's Social Democrats coming in third with just 14.44 percent. In a further blow to the leftists, only one of the Social Democrat's governing coalition partners, the populist Order and Justice party, cleared the 5-percent threshold with 5.5 percent of the vote. In the first round, the conservative Homeland Union secured 20 seats, closely followed by the centrist Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union party with 19 seats, leaving the current government party in third place with 13 seats. A few smaller parties also won some seats.

The results were a major blow to the Social Democrats in the small Baltic state, where voters clearly signaled they were ready for a change in a country that has faced a series of scandals and continued economic woes. "Obviously, people voted for changes and against the coalition that is knee-deep in scandals," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said in a statement. "However, the election is not over yet - the electorate will make its final decision in the second round on who they trust to rule the country," said Grybauskaite, who is an independent.

The vote for 70 members of Lithuania's 141-seat parliament was based on proportional representation from party lists. The second round of voting on 23 October 2016 for the remaining 71 seats will be based on direct voting at the local level. The runoffs in parliamentary elections may give the opposition a chance to govern after four years of rule by a coalition led by Social Democrats. The second round was a runoff for 68 of the 141 seats in parliament that were not previously allotted after a first round of balloting October 9. Lithuania's opposition Homeland Union hoped to capitalize on voters' dissatisfaction with low wages and labor exodus from their Baltic eurozone state. The population has shrunk to 2.9 million from 3.3 million a decade ago.

Lithuanians voted for major change in parliamentary elections in the 23 October 2016 runoff election, handing victory to a farmers' union that previously held only one seat in parliament. The Peasant and Green's Union (LGPU) party, led by 46-year-old millionaire farmer Ramunas Karbauskis, was expected to end up with 56 seats in the 141-member Parliament, in the biggest victory by a single party in 20 years. The LGPU rode to victory on promises of creating a government of technocrats to improve the economy and stop the outflow of citizens to other countries in Europe. Karbauskis ruled out becoming prime minister. That position is slated for Saulius Skvernelis, a former national police chief popular for fighting corruption.

The conservative Homeland Union-Christian Democrats was poised to take 30 seats. The incumbent ruling party, the Social Democrats, would take 18 seats. The results are a major blow to the Social Democrats, who have become increasingly unpopular due to corruption and their role in adopting a new labor code that makes it easier to hire and fire employees. The remaining seats were split among several smaller parties.

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