Lithuania is on course to get its first ever female president if the predictions for Sunday’s election are right. The centre-right ex-European Commissioner Dalia Grybauskeite is way ahead in the polls over her closest rival Algirdas Butkevicius, from the left-wing social democrats who lost power last year.
Pollster Vladas Gaidys said: “The campaign is boring because we have one strong leader – Dalia Grybauskeite. She is on course to get collect 50-60 per cent of the vote while the second most popular candidate, the social democrat leader has five times less support. If the turnout is more than 50 per cent, she would win, but if it’s lower she would need the second round, and then we might see some surprises.” Along with its neighbours Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania’s economy has crashed amid the world financial crisis after years of steady growth after joining the EU in 2004. “The first problem we should deal with is unemployment, but I’m not sure the President can solve that,” said one resident in Vilnius. Another added: “To be honest, I don’t envy the new President since we have so many problems like law-enforcement and tax issues.” There are seven candidates standing in all, but with such emphasis on the economy, Grybauskeite’s job as the EU’s Financial Planning and Budget Commissioner appears to instill confidence in the electorate.