Lithuania’s presidential palace looks set to get its first female resident. Former European Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite goes into today’s election with over half the Lithuanians questioned telling opinion pollsters they will be voting for her.
That means she might get the more than fifty percent needed to avoid a second round runoff election. Her closest rival is Algirdas Butkevicius, the former finance minister who heads the left wing Social Democratic Party which was ousted from government last year. Opinion polls show him with nine percent support. There are five other candidates. If she does win, Grybauskaite, who has a black-belt in karate, will have a big fight on her hands, wrestling the Baltic nation’s economy back into shape. Lithuania’s central bank is forecasting GDP will fall 15.5 percent this year and unemployment will reach 11.5 percent.