Lithuanian Social Democrats were pushed into third place in parliamentary elections as voters voiced disquiet over pay and opportunities in the tiny Baltic nation that seven years ago became a trailblazer for European Union austerity.
Sunday’s national vote left the Peasants & Green Union and the Homeland Union-Christian Democrats neck and neck on 21.6 percent with almost all ballots counted.
The Social Democrats had 14.4 percent, with support for the ruling coalition they lead sinking on persistent emigration, sluggish salary growth and a procurement scandal that worsened already frosty ties with President Dalia Grybauskaite.
“The dominant scenario is that the Peasants and Homeland will form the basis of a new center-right coalition,” said Ramunas Vilpisauskas, director of the Institute for International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University.
The national vote, where turnout was 50.5 percent, decides 70 of parliament’s 141 seats, with individual constituencies accounting for the rest. Only three single-mandate races were decided Sunday, leaving a large number of seats up for grabs in the runoffs in two weeks.
“People voted for change and against the scandal-ridden coalition,” Grybauskaite, who has no official party affiliation, said Monday, according to the BNS news service. “But the election isn’t over yet.”