• Lithuania opposition set to oust leftists after polls

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    VILNIUS: Lithuania’s opposition looked set to beat the ruling Social Democrats in round one of a general election, results showed Monday, suggesting a possible change in government for the Baltic eurozone state.

    With results in from 90 percent of polling stations, Social Democrats finished third with 14.7 percent, in a huge blow for Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius ahead of the decisive October 23 run-off vote.

    The centrist Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union party (LPGU) garnered 22.3 percent of the vote, while the Homeland Union conservatives took 20.6 percent.

    Three other parties are expected to enter parliament, signalling complicated coalition talks.

    “It was a protest vote against the governing leftist coalition,” Ramunas Vilpisauskas, director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science in Vilnius, told AFP.

    He said a new labor law that makes it easier to hire and fire employees and corruption allegations had alienated voters already angered by low wages and mass emigration to the Western Europe.

    Analysts have tipped the farmer-backed LPGU — currently outside parliament and led by popular former national police chief Saulius Skvernelis — as potential kingmaker in coalition talks.

    Wage growth and job creation have been key rallying calls for candidates in the country of 2.9 million people, plagued by an exodus of workers seeking higher wages.

    AFP

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