Lithuanian president calls his election result 'very good'

  • 2024-05-13
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Gitanas Nauseda, Lithuania's incumbent president seeking re-election for a second term, on Monday described his result in the first round as "very good" and said he hopes to get more votes in Vilnius in the run-off in two weeks' time.

"I think the result is really very good," he told a post-election press conference in Vilnius. "Building on that, we need to keep participating and strive for victory in the second round." 

Having hinted on election night that he wanted to win the presidential election outright, Nauseda noted at the press conference that it is rare for a democratic leader to score victory in the first round.

The incumbent received the most votes in 57 out of 60 municipalities. He lost to Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte in Vilnius and to Eduardas Vaitkus, a medical doctor, in Salcininkai and Visaginas.

Nauseda said that he, as president, has visited both Salcininkai and Visaginas, but the government should pay more attention to the region with a large population of ethnic minorities.

"We really need to pay attention to the specific problems of these regions. We must understand that Russia isn't sitting idle and that the Russian narrative or its attempt to present a certain view of the world as it appears from Moscow does exist, and that this is not just a Lithuanian problem. It's a problem for the entire European Union," he said.

Nauseda said he expects to garner more votes in the capital in the May 26 run-off against Simonyte.

"In the second round, I very much hope that a significant portion of the votes cast for other contenders in the first round will come to me," the president said.

"It may be more challenging to compete for the votes of Mr. Dainius Zalimas, but I hope that we'll receive the necessary support in Vilnius as well," he added.

Nauseda did not give a clear answer on Monday as to whether he plans to move to the official residence in Turniskes, a prestigious neighborhood on the outskirts of Vilnius, during his second term.

The parliament is debating a draft legislative amended, initiated by MP Matas Maldeikis of the ruling conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), that would oblige the president and the prime minister to reside in official residencies in a protected compound in Turniskes. 

The proposal has been recently approved by the government. 

Nauseda does not rule out appealing to the Constitutional Court if the amendment is adopted.

"As for Turniskes, I believe we need to resolve the issue of whether such laws comply with the Constitution," he told the press conference.

Nauseda confirmed that if he is re-elected president, there will be changes in the Cabinet after the government returns its mandate following his inauguration for a second term in July.

"I don't think this government could stay in the same composition, but I wouldn't like to talk about specific ministers. For the same reason that you don't halloo till you're out of the woods. The second round is in two weeks," he said. 

Preliminary figures from the Central Electoral Commission show that 624,795 people, or 44.19 percent, voted for Nauseda nationwide. This is significantly more than five years ago when he received 441,396 votes, or 30.94 percent, in the first round.

Voter turnout in Sunday's election was 59.48 percent.

Nauseda is running for re-election as an independent candidate. The opposition Lithuanian Social Democratic Party and the Lithuanian Regional Party have expressed their support for him.

He will face Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte in the May 26 run-off.