VILNIUS – Former President Valdas Adamkus won the presidential runoff ballot on Sunday, collecting 51.6 percent of the vote, the Central Election Committee announced early Monday morning. Rival Kazimira Prunskiene gathered 46.9 percent of the votes, while turnout was 52.38 percent.
According to the committee, Adamkus did particularly well in large cities, mustering 54 percent in Vilnius, 69 percent in Kaunas (his hometown), 53 percent in Siauliai and 59 percent in Panevezys.
Curiously, Prunskiene won a narrow victory in Klaipeda, collecting 50.06 percent of votes in the port city.
As expected, Prunskiene, who is leader of the Farmers and New Democracy Party, was strongest in poorer, agricultural regions. She even collected 91 percent in the Visaginas and 89 percent in the Salcininkai districts.
The results put Adamkus, 77, president from 1998 to 2003, back in the Presidential Palace after 18 months of political scandal and upheaval in Lithuania that resulted in the impeachment of Rolandas Paksas.
Nominated by the oppositional Liberal and Center Union, Adamkus received support from the oppositional Conservatives and the ruling Social Liberals after the first round of the polls.
In contrast to the 2002-2003 runoff campaign against Paksas, when Adamkus and his team tried to run on the success of NATO and EU integration, this time the former president and U.S. citizen traveled to rural areas to meet with the poorest parts of Lithuanian society.
This year's runoff campaign, however, was also marked by controversy, with the Special Investigation Service raiding the offices of four parliamentary parties, including those supporting Adamkus, while probing allegations that there were attempts to influence the outcome of the presidential poll.
Adamkus' electoral staff blasted the raids, saying the SIS' moves amounted to "attempts to cause turmoil" and "actions based on Eastern technologies" inspired by those unhappy with polls that indicated Adamkus was the leading candidate.
Still, many analysts see Adamkus' victory as a return to political normalcy in a country that is exhausted by controversy. Adamkus' five-year term was devoid of any questions or doubts about his personal integrity. What's more, after his defeat in January 2003, Adamkus continued working for Lithuania's benefit both at home and abroad. He was granted the title of UNESCO Good Will Ambassador for a Knowledge-based Society in 2003.
Meanwhile, MP Kazimira Prunskiene, said late Sunday she was disappointed and might appeal against the election results if there are suspicions of violations.