Vilnius [Lithu.a]: Lithu.a’s President, Gitanas Nauseda, has been re-elected in the final round of the Baltic nation’s presidential elections, as partial results showed him far ahead in the two-way race against his opponent, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, reported Al Jazeera.

Notably, this is the second time Nauseda and Simonyte have competed in presidential run-off elections. Earlier in 2019, Nauseda beat Simonyte and bagged victory with 66 percent of the vote.

Results Of The Presidential Elections

Ballots from nearly 90 percent of polling stations on Sunday showed Nauseda, 60, winning roughly three-quarters of the vote, followed by Simonyte, 49, from the ruling centre-right Homeland Union party.

Following his re-win, Simonyte conceded defeat while speaking to reporters and congratulated Nauseda. As president, Nauseda has a semi-executive role, which includes heading the armed forces, chairing the defence and national security policy bodies, and representing the country at NATO and European Union summits.

The former senior economist with the Swedish banking group SEB, who is not affiliated with any party, won the first round of the election on May 12 with 44 percent of the votes, short of the 50 percent he needed for an outright victory, reported Al Jazeera. Moreover, Simonyte was the only woman out of eight candidates in the first round and came in second with 20 percent.

President’s Support For Increasing Defence Spending

Both President Nauseda and PM Simonyte support increasing defence spending to at least 3 percent of Lithu.a’s gross domestic product, up from the 2.75 percent planned for this year, in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Like other Baltic nations, Lithu.a also fears it could be Moscow’s next target, as reported by Al Jazeera. However, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said he has no intention of attacking any NATO countries.

Relationship Of Presidential Candidates Gitanas Nauseda & Ingrida Simonyte

The uneasy relationship between Nauseda and Simonyte has also been highlighted in the foreign policy debates, most notably in Lithu.a’s relations with China. The bilateral ties between the two countries became tense in 2021, when Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy under the island’s name, a departure from the common diplomatic practice of using the name of the capital, Taipei, to avoid angering Beijing. China, which considers self-ruled Taiwan a part of its territory, downgraded diplomatic relations with Vilnius and blocked its exports. It further led some politicians to urge a restoration of relations for the sake of the economy, reported Al Jazeera.

Rahul Dev

Cricket Jounralist at Newsdesk

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