VILNIUS – The right-wing Lithuanian Conservatives-Homeland Union party on Wednesday withdrew its support for the presidential candidacy of former president and frontrunner Valdas Adamkus.
In a press conference held on Wednesday morning, Homeland Union leader Andrius Kubilius explained that his party would support the candidacy of Petras Austrevicius, Lithuania's former chief EU negotiator. Homeland Union had, until that point, backed both Adamkus and Austrevicius.
According to Kubilius, his party will attempt to push Austrevicius into the second round of elections in the expectation that Adamkus will be the other final candidate. Such a situation would guarantee that a right-wing figure would become the next president, Kubilius said.
The move caused a rift in the political right, as leaders of the Liberal Centrist Union, the center-right party that has given Adamkus his main supporters, called the decision "shameful."
While Adamkus has declared his intention to run his campaign for the June 13 presidential elections independent of party politics, he developed a reputation as patriarch of the center-right during his 1998-2003 term as head of state.
Homeland Union came to its decision following Tuesday's Constitutional Court ruling banning impeached president Rolandas Paksas from participating in the election.
Nonetheless, Austrevicius' conservative pedigree was called into question when he accepted the support of the populist Labor party, whose leader, entrepreneur Viktor Uspaskich, has become one of the most controversial figures in mainstream politics.
The June 13 poll was called to replace Paksas, who was removed from office on April 6.