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Nauseda in pole position ahead of presidential election runoff?

Seated, Gitanas Nauseda [R] and Ramunas Karbauskis (shaking hands).

By Angele Kedatiene

On 26 May Lithuanians will vote both for the European elections, and for the runoff of the Presidential election.

The Lithuanian ruling political party Peasantries and Green Union, and also the opposition Lithuanian Social Democratic party have invited both Presidential candidates Ginatas Nauseda and Ingrida Simonyte for a discussion. But only Nauseda came, while Simonyte ignored the invitation, sending her answers to the questions in writing. Ramunas Karbauskis, ledaer of the ruling party, made public his disappointment from the snub.

During the meeting, which took place on Wednesday, Nauseda answered questions related to foreign policy, social security, public sector reform, health care. 

According to him, at the EU Council level Lithuania should continue to be represented by the President, to ensure continuity of the foreign policy, and aiming at speaking in the international area with a single and consistent voice. If elected, he would increase the powers of municipalities, especially in ensuring employment and balanced regional development.  On the other hand, he is against re-establishing of the state enterprises, like state owned pharmacies. 

Nauseda said he was in favour on a nation-wide consensus to increase the social expenditures, within five years to reach EU average. Today, Lithuanian spends 11,5% of its GDP for social policies, while EU average is 19,5´%. At the same time, he would aim at increasing budgetary income while reducing black economy, increasing revenue collection and reducing different subsidies. 

He said he would aim at strengthening the Courts system, while introducing the instrument of mediation to ease their burden, but at the same time he stood strongly for the confiscation of the wealth of those guilty of corruption. He spoke in favour of continuing the education of judges to increase their qualifications. 

In area of health care, he said he would keep up with the promise to increase salaries of the medical personnel, and to improve the hospitalisation conditions in the regions. 

Nauseda spoke in favour of better relationships with neighbouring Poland and with the Polish population in Lithuania. 

Ramunas Karbauskis wished him good luck with Presidential elections, and expressed hope that confrontation between the Presidential house and the Government will end. The ruling Peasantries and Green Union will decide on Thursday whom to support in the Presidential elections. Most likely their support could go to Nauseda. The Lithuanian Social Democratic party is not going to support any of candidates.

Well known Lithuanian political scientists Kestutis Grinius and Aine Ramonaite are of the same opinion that Nauseda will be the most likely winner, but a lot will depend from the turnout. Sociologist Vladas Gaidys also thinks that Nauseda would win, as he is an independent candidate, which strengthens his positions. Lithuanian voters have favoured earlier the outgoing President Dalia Grybauiskaite as non-political independent candidate. 

Although Nauseda is centre-right as Ingrida Simonyte, last proposed by the Homeland Union, doesn’t matter the independence makes an impression towards Presidential polices in favour of all citizens. 

According to political pundits, the only chance for Ingrida Simonyte is to forget about the support of the political conservative establishment, and go to directly the people to convince them to vote for her. In any case Simonyte has said she would keep the present governing coalition in place.  

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