Saturday, May 16, 2009

Election Eve in Vilnius

I arrived in Lithuania today, on the eve of the presidential election (early voting has begun, but the main day for casting ballots is tomorrow). Campaign advertisements have already been cleaned off bulletin boards around town, although a few strays remain. The streets of Vilnius are quiet, and the election is also expected to be a relatively quiet affair.

Several candidates planned to run for president, but only seven gained ballot access. The leader in reported polling is Dalia Grybauskaite, an EU Commissioner. While the sample selection in the most widely reported poll could be biased (as it seems small and focuses on urban areas), Grybauskaite's lead is substantial. While she has faced some challenges to her eligibility, this election campaign is less charged than the 2004 election that followed Rolandas Paksas' impeachment. Barring a Literary Digest-style fiasco, she is likely to win the most votes tomorrow. If she does not win outright, the second round will be held on June 7 along with European parliamentary elections.

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