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Lithuania's 'Iron Lady' scores second presidential term

Update: May, 26/2014 - 11:00

VILNIUS — Lithuania's "Iron Lady" Dalia Grybauskaite won an unprecedented second term on Sunday in a presidential runoff.

"No president has been elected twice in a row in Lithuania," she said as official results showed her capturing 58 per cent support in the runoff against leftist rival Zigmantas Balcytis.

"It will be a historic victory for all of you," she said, with over 80 per cent of the vote counted.

"Grybauskaite is the only one seriously prepared for the presidency," Vilnius civil servant Jurate Kiserauske said as she emerged from a polling station.

"She has a clear position, opinion and morality. Balcytis has no backbone. And now, when we see strong winds blowing from Russia, it's worrying."

Security matters

Balcytis, who served as a leftist lawmaker in the outgoing European Parliament, took a more cautious approach on Russia, advocating dialogue.

"I expected a better result... but the choice and will of the Lithuanian people today is very clear – President Grybauskaite won these elections," the 60-year-old former transport and finance minister told local television.

Instead of national security, his campaign focused on bread and butter issues as Lithuania gears up for eurozone entry in January.

Both candidates backed eurozone membership and a liquefied natural gas terminal intended to end the natural gas monopoly held by Russia's Gazprom.

Joblessness stands at 9.8 per cent, with the economy set to grow by 3.4 per cent this year, one of the fastest rates in the 28-member EU.

Turnout fell under the expected 50 per cent for the presidential ballot held in tandem with the EU vote.

In all, just 47 per cent of the country's 2.5 million eligible voters showed up at the ballot box.—  AFP

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