Europe

Lithuania election: Farmers' party in shock triumph

Lithuania's Peasant and Green Union (LPGU) party Chairman Ramunas Karbauskis speaks to the media after his party triumphed in elections (23 October 2016) Image copyright AP
Image caption Lithuania's Peasant and Green Union (LPGU) party Chairman Ramunas Karbauskis has raised the possibility of forming a "grand coalition" of all parties in parliament

A centrist agrarian party that was previously represented by a single parliamentarian has won a shock victory in Lithuanian elections.

With nearly all the results from the second round now in, the Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union (LPGU) has won nearly 40% of the seats.

The LPGU will now seek to form a coalition government.

It will do so either with the opposition Homeland Union or with the left-of-centre Social Democrats.

The campaign was dominated by issues such as low wages and how best to stem a flow of Lithuanian workers to other parts of the European Union.

The eastern European country's population is said to have shrunk to 2.9 million from 3.3 million a decade ago with an estimated 370,000 relocating mostly to the UK, since Lithuania joined the EU in 2004.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Analysts says the LGPU's surprise win reflects the fact that Lithuanians want new faces in parliament
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The campaign was dominated by issues such as low wages and how best to stem a flow of Lithuanian workers to other parts of the European Union

The LPGU won 54 seats in the 141-member parliament, the Homeland Union won 31 seats while the Social Democrats - the main party in the previous administration - won 17 seats, the state election commission told the AFP news agency.

Three other smaller parties also won seats in parliament.

Analysts says the LPGU's surprise win reflects the fact that Lithuanians want new faces in parliament.

"We will forge a rational coalition government and we'll chose people who want to bring about changes," LPGU prime ministerial candidate Saulius Skvernelis - a popular former police chief - said on national TV as the results came in.

"We'll bring transparent and responsible policies," he said. His party is expected to keep Lithuania firmly within Nato, the EU and the eurozone.

The party's official leader Ramunas Karbauskis - a billionaire industrial farmer and land baron - has raised the possibility of forming a "grand coalition" of all parties in parliament to create a technocratic government that will concentrate on stimulating economic growth.

Correspondents say the election result in effect terminates any chance of Homeland Union leader Gabrielius Landsbergis becoming prime minister.

He was tipped as favourite for the post after his party narrowly defeated the LPGU in the first round of the election on 8 October.

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