Lithuania prepares for double Sunday vote

Lithuania votes on Sunday, and 16 parties are contesting this election, with a backdrop of widespread public disillusion in parliament, which polls say is Lithuania’s least-trusted insititution.

The former Soviet republic became an independent democracy in 1991, and has been run by coalition governments ever since. Today it is grappling with double-digit inflation and a slowing growth rate.

“The most likely possibility, the most likely coalition will be similar to the current government, a mix of three or four parties or perhaps five left and centre parties with no real party dominant, but the Social Democratic party that has been in power for 12 of the last 16 years is likely to play a central role,” is one analyst’s opinion.

Some people also worry policy’s already been decided before they vote.

“I’ve lost my trust but I will go to the ballot box only to destroy my bulletin so no-one can cast my vote,” said one woman.

Sunday sees a double vote, however, and the second is of great interest to the EU and Lithuania’s neighbours. The people will be asked in a referendum whether or not to prolong the life of the Ignalina nuclear power station, which Lithuania promised to close next year.

It is only consultative, but the result could give the new government ammunition if it negotiates an extension on Ignalina with Brussels.

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