Lithuanian president declares re-election victory
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Dalia Grybauskaite was re-elected president of Lithuania on Sunday after beating the Social Democrat candidate in a runoff.
The 58-year-old former European Union commissioner and karate black belt thanked her supporters and called her victory over Social Democrat Zigmantas Balcytis “historic” because “Lithuania has never elected a president for second term before.”
In an emotional speech, she said she sees the vote result “as a huge obligation and responsibility to Lithuania.”
“I will continue my duties and do whatever Lithuania needs,” she said.
In a country ruled by Moscow during the Cold War, Grybauskaite’s approval ratings rose after she condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea and supported boosting NATO forces in Lithuania.
Grybauskaite was the top vote winner in the first round of the presidential election two weeks ago but failed to get an outright majority.
According to preliminary results in the runoff, Grybauskaite, who ran as an independent with backing from the center-right parties, got support from 58.6 percent of voters. The center-left Balcytis won 41.4 percent.
She is an economist who served as Lithuania’s finance minister and EU budget commissioner before becoming her country’s first female president in 2009.
Early results showed about 43.7 percent of the country’s 2.5 million registered voters went to the polls. Lithuanians also voted to fill 11 seats in the European Parliament.