Lithuania has a new president and for the first time it is a woman: Dalia Grybauskaite.
The 53-year-old tough talking former finance minister ran as an independent candidate sweeping past political rivals who were mired in allegations of corruption and Lithuania’s economic downturn. Grybauskaite is a European Union Budget Commissioner who claims she can be trusted. She said: “I think that the political elite devaluated themselves and people do not trust local politics any more. And my own experience and my own results in my career show people that I can be trusted.” After enjoying years of impressive growth since it joined the European Union in 2004, Lithuania is experiencing double digit economic contraction and rising unemployment. Grybauskaite is widely seen as being a level-headed caretaker . She wants to stimulate exports, absorb EU aid faster and provide tax breaks for small and medium size businesses. She has a huge mandate having secured 70 percent of the vote. No-one underestimates the challenges ahead but many observers say Grybauskaite is the right person to lift Lithuania out of its economic mess.