On 11 May 2014 Lithuania held the first round of presidential elections. After incumbent Dalie Grybauskaite had won her first term with 69% of the vote, she now also entered the race for re-election as the clear favourite out of seven candidates. Despite more than twice the amount of votes than the runner-up, she failed to repeat the first-round victory from five years and will enter a run-off against Zigmantas Balčytis on 25 May.
Commentators criticised the campaign as ‘boring’ and superficial as all candidates were aware that they were unlikely to win against Grybauskaite or even enter the second round. The latter was particularly true for Naglis Puteikis (independent MP), Valdemar Tomaševski (MEP, candidate of the Polish Electoral Alliance), Bronis Ropė (Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union) and Artūras Zuokas (Homeland Revival and Perspective Party). The question was rather whether MEP and former minister of finance Zigmantas Balčytis or former speaker of parliament and one-time acting president Artūras Paulauskas would enter the second round. While Grybauskaite, who runs as an independent (yet her candidacy is supported by the conservative Homeland Union), was not able to win a second term in the first round of election, her result is better than could have been expected only half a year ago. She now benefitted from the fact that parties generally did not propose their most popular candidates. Grybauskaite was also able to capitalise on the Ukraine crisis in the context of which she was able to represent herself as the defender Lithuania’s security interests against hypothetical Russian aggression.
Grybauskaite is set to win the second round of the elections and another term in office. While there is hardly anything that would be able to ruin her chances, Balčytis might still be able to reduce the distance between the two.
Detailed election results can be found on the website of the Lithuanian Electoral Commission: