Lithuanians Vote in President Election Amid Rising Tensions with Russia

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Lithuanians are participating in a significant presidential election as fears about Moscow's intentions grow due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The incumbent, Gitanas Nauseda, is the frontrunner to secure victory for another term as president. However, with eight candidates in the running, achieving the required 50% of votes may be challenging, potentially leading to a runoff election in May.

The presidency in Lithuania holds vital responsibilities in foreign affairs and security, especially given the escalating tensions between Russia and the West. Concerns are particularly high in the Baltic region, which includes Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, all former Soviet states that have aligned themselves with the EU and NATO. The strategic location of Lithuania, sandwiched between Russian exclave Kaliningrad, adds further significance to the presidential election amidst the current geopolitical climate.

Apart from the presidential election, a referendum addressing the issue of dual citizenship for Lithuanians living abroad is also on the ballot. The amendment in question aims to allow hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians holding another nationality to retain their Lithuanian citizenship. This proposal is crucial for a nation that has experienced a decline in population from 3.5 million to 2.8 million since the 1990s.

Interestingly, the OSCE, an international organization focused on democratic processes, declined Lithuania's invitation to observe the election. This decision was fueled by Lithuania's request to exclude monitors from Russia and Belarus, whom they view as threats to their political and electoral integrity. The OSCE expressed that Lithuania's exclusion of these observers contradicts the principles of the organization, which emphasize political neutrality and adherence to a code of conduct for observers.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09