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Lithuania - Presidential Election

Dalia Grybauskaite becomes the first woman President of the Republic of Lithuania

Dalia Grybauskaite becomes the first woman President of the Republic of Lithuania

18/05/2009 - Results

Independent candidate Dalia Grybauskaite became the first woman to be elected President of the Republic of Lithuania in the first round of voting on 17th May clinching 69.04% of the vote. She recorded her highest scores in Kaunas (83.71%).
Social Democrat Algirdas Butkevicius (Social Democratic Party, LSP) came second with 11.85% of the vote. He was followed by Valentinas Mazuronis (For Order and Justice, TT) who won 6.17% of the vote, then came Waldemar Tomaszewki (Polish Electoral Action, LLRA) with 4.75% (but 52.99% in the region of Vilnius and 71.75% in the town of Salcininkai), then came Kazimira Prunskiene (People's Peasant Union, LVLS) with 3.91%, then Loreta Grauziniene (Labour Party, DP) with 3.62% and finally independent candidate, army General Ceslovas Jezerskas who won 0.67% of the vote.
Turn out rose to 51.71%, easily over the figure recorded during the first round of the election on 13th June 2004 (+ 12.31 points).
"I hope this evening that I shall be able to congratulate the new woman President of the Republic," said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius (Homeland Union-Conservatives, TS-LK). Indeed although Dalia Grybauskaite's victory seemed to be guaranteed from the day she delivered her candidature many analysts feared that turnout would be inadequate for the election to be declared valid in the first round. To be elected in the first round a candidate has to win more than half of the votes cast with a turn out higher than 50%. If it is lower half of the votes and over one third of the total of those registered have to be won.

"I am very happy that people came and voted for me because I know what it will take to help Lithuania in this difficult situation," declared Dalia Grybauskaite when the results were announced. "The taste of victory goes together with the burden of responsibility. I hope that together we will be able to cross this difficult time and emerge stronger and richer. I congratulate the Lithuanian people on their choice," she added.

From their future President the Lithuanians are expecting the country's rapid return to prosperity, which is sorely affected by the present international economic crisis.
Reputed for her honesty she declared "I am extremely frank and direct, sometimes too much so, I say what I think and it does not always please everyone. I am for transparency and I shall demand this quality from everyone." She made the fight against the oligarchs and monopolies the focal point of her electoral campaign and set herself the goal of "trying to stabilise the financial situation in Lithuania so that the country can recover as quickly as possible". "In the last twenty years Lithuania has experienced major changes but at the same time we can see many consequences left over from the previous system, and also new vices: people avoid paying their taxes, there is political corruption, major monopolisation of the economy, oligarchic trends," she stressed. With regard to foreign policy she says that "Lithuania must invest more in Europe, find friends in Europe and use the advantages provided by EU membership."

"My first task will be to assess the government's work and within the next fifteen days I shall put forward the name of the new Prime Minister," declared the future President on the announcement of the results. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius is due to return to office but the government coalition that he leads is due to be reshuffled. "The government is doing its utmost to avoid the country's economic collapse but I cannot see who can replace the present Head of Government. But I did say during the entire campaign that some Ministers' work is not to my taste," said Dalia Grybauskaite. "We have to decide which ministers will remain in office." "Lithuania does not have great choice in terms of its political elite," she concluded. She also maintained that she would go back on Andrius Kubilius's decision to increase taxes to make up for the budgetary deficit.
"Dalia Grybauskaite has a problem: she has never been elected to a position, until now she has always been appointed," declared political analyst Algis Krupavicius. "She lacks knowledge and experience in knowing how to act as an elected representative. She is a professional of economy and finance but for example in the area of foreign policy her knowledge is very limited," he says.

53 year old Dalia Grybauskaite gained her diploma in economy from the University of Zdanov in Leningrad and undertook a thesis in economy at the Academy of Science in Moscow (1988). In 1983 she was the secretary for the Academy of Sciences of the Socialist Republic of Lithuania and taught economy at the Communist College of Vilnius until 1990. The following year she became secretary for sciences at the Economics Institute and was head of department at the International Economic Relations and Foreign Affairs Ministry. After independence in 1991 she took over the negotiation delegations with the EU, became a plenipotentiary minister in the USA and returned to Lithuania in 1999 to become deputy to the Finance Minister for International Affairs for whom she undertook negotiations for her country's accession to the European Union.
In 2001, she was appointed Finance Minister in the government led by Social Democrat Algirdas Brazauskas (LSP). In 2004 she became European Commissioner for the Budget and Financial Planning. She then implemented the reform of the Union's budget, work for which she was rewarded via the receipt of the title of European Commissioner of the Year in 2005. Extremely sporty the future Head of State has a black belt in judo and was once a member of the national Lithuanian junior basketball team.

Dalia Grybauskaite has therefore become the first woman to reach the supreme office in Lithuania and the second in the Baltic States in the wake of Vaira Vike Freiberga, President of Latvia from 1999-2007. She will be sworn in on 12th July next.

Source: Lithuanian Electoral Commission
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
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