VILNIUS – Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Social Security and Labor Minister Monika Navickiene are the most popular potential presidential candidates among the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats' branches, the ruling conservative party said on Monday.
Simonyte, Landsbergis, the HU-LCD chairman, and Navickiene, the party's deputy chairwoman, were proposed as potential candidates by almost all of the party's branches during the nomination process that closed on Sunday.
More than half of the branches proposed Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas and Paulius Saudargas, vice-speaker of the parliament.
Simonyte tops the list with her candidacy proposed 66 times, followed by Landsbergis with 64, Navickiene with 62, Kasciunas with 54, Anusauskas with 42, and Saudargas with 41 times.
A total of 70 HU-LCD branches nominated candidates, and proposed more than one candidate.
According to Martynas Prievelis, the HU-LCD executive secretary, the candidates proposed by the branches will now be reviewed by the party's Supervisory Committee and the Presidium will then decide on the final list.
The HU-LCD plans to hold on November 11 and 12 open primaries for next May's presidential election and the ranking of candidates for next June's European Parliament elections.
The party's members and its supporters will be eligible to vote.
Opinion polls indicate that Gitanas Nauseda, the incumbent, is currently the clear favorite to win Lithuania's presidential election scheduled for next spring. The other two top contenders are Ignas Vegele, a lawyer, and Simonyte.
Nauseda and Vegele have said they will announce their decisions on whether or not to run in the 2024 race later this year.
The Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union is fielding Aurelija Veryga, a former health minister and now an MP, in the presidential election.
Mantas Varaska, the mayor of Kazlu Ruda, a town in southern Lithuania, has recently announced his intention to run for president. He is supported by the Lithuanian Regions Party.