Leader of Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius (R) with wife Janina and granddaughter Kamilla at a polling station during Parliamentary election in Vilnius, Lithuania 9 October 2016.
Photograph: EPA/Valda Kalnina

Lithuania's ruling Social Democrats were on the back foot Monday after the first of two rounds of parliamentary voting put the party solidly in third place behind two opposition groups.

With almost all votes counted, the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union was tied for first place with the conservative Homeland Union at 21.6 per cent, according to the national election commission. The Social Democrats, meanwhile, slid to 14.5 per cent.

The results showed an electorate worn out by the Social Democrats' policies and the scandal-hit government led by Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius.

"Obviously, people voted for changes and against the coalition that is knee-deep in scandals," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said in comments from her office to the Baltic News Service (BNS).

"However, the election is not over yet – the electorate will make its final decision in the second round on who they trust to rule the country," said Grybauskaite, who is an independent.

The book is not yet written on the vote, since Sunday's polling only awarded 70 seats in the legislature based on proportional representation. A further 71 seats will be determined by direct voting on October 23.

Nonetheless, the leaders of the opposition parties took the outcome as a key victory.

"I am very happy about the decision of the people," said Ramunas Karbauskis, head of the Peasant and Greens Union. The centrist party has, in the past, declared itself interested in building a coalition with either centre-right or centre-left parties.

Nor did he rule out a broader coalition of all parties with the highest votes.

Homeland head Gabrielius Landsbergis said he assumed his party would be part of the next governing coalition. BNS reported that he was already trying to set up coalition talks with the Liberal party, which garnered 9 per cent. He said a coalition with the Social Democrats was "almost impossible."

The Social Democrats will be further constricted by the fact that only one of their existing coalition partners - the populist Order and Justice party - made it back into the parliament, with 5.5 per cent of the vote.

The other, the Labour Party, did not reach the 5-per-cent cut-off required to stay in the legislature.

The Labour Party has suffered amid allegations that one of its members, Vytautas Gapsys, had taken questionable political donations.

There has also been a scandal about the Defence Ministry buying overpriced kitchen equipment in a non-transparent bidding process. There have been calls for Defence Minister Juozas Olekas to step down amid the scandal, but the prime minister has protected him, sparking some outrage.

Related stories

Latest news

Trump-style rhetoric is making world more dangerous, Amnesty says

Divisive and "poisonous" language used by politicians such as US President Donald Trump is putting vulnerable populations at risk and making the whole world a more dangerous place, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

Canada soon to begin resettling Iraqi refugees, most of them Yezidis

Canada will resettle 1,200 survivors of the Islamic State campaign to target religious minorities in northern Iraq, Canadian officials announced Tuesday. 

Breitbart editor resigns after release of paedophilia comments

Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial editor at the far-right Breitbart news website, resigned Tuesday after the emergence of recordings in which he appears to defend sexual relationships between young boys and older men.

Trump administration opens door for mass deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security laid the groundwork Tuesday for mass deportations of immigrants living illegally in the United States under an executive order by President Donald Trump last month.

Brexit bill: House of Lords says public can change mind on leaving EU

The British public should be able to change their minds on Brexit - just as Prime Minister Theresa May did, the upper chamber of parliament heard Tuesday during a marathon debate on legislation to kick off EU negotiations.

Italian lawmakers, rights activists clash over gay sex club scandal

Gay rights activists and conservative politicians clashed Tuesday after the chief of Italy's anti-discrimination office quit over allegations that money had been authorized for gay sex clubs.

EU countries agree new rules to avoid tax evasion

European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday reached a political agreement on new rules to ensure that multinational corporations do not declare profits in the countries where they pay the least tax but in the countries where they generate it.

Trump condemns "horrible, painful" anti-Jewish incidents

US President Donald Trump condemned a recent spate of threats against Jewish community targets across the United States, during a visit Tuesday to the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

FinMin expects Croatia to exit Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Tuesday Croatia could exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring and that it was showing progress in correcting macroeconomic imbalances.

Austria seeks to create jobs, but new EU immigrants need not apply

Austria plans to create 160,000 jobs in the next three years by subsidizing companies, but the project has raised concerns because it effectively excludes people who recently immigrated from other EU countries.

Juncker: Not good for W. Balkans that some in Washington want to water down EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday it was not good for Western Balkan countries that some people in the new US administration gave the impression of being against the European Union because those countries needed the prospects of EU membership.

Citizens invited to help create Croatian version of Monopoly

A project to create a Croatian edition of Monopoly, in which citizens can participate by submitting proposals and which could become a souvenir for tourists, was presented at a press conference on Tuesday.

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok named Asia's best for third year

Bangkok's Indian eatery Gaggan on Tuesday was named the best restaurant in Asia for the third consecutive year by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

HGK: 16 Croatian companies to exhibit at IDEX defence exhibition

Sixteen Croatian companies will exhibit their products at the 13th IDEX 2017 defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to be held on February 19-23.