Lithuanian presidential elections. First round- 2:0 to open Lithuania

Ingrida Šimonytė, Gitanas Nausėda
Ingrida Šimonytė and Gitanas Nausėda @DELFI

Lithuanian presidential elections, first round is up and Lithuanian people have spoken: they would like to see Ingrida Šimonytė and Gitanas Nausėda in the second round of Lithuanian presidential elections on May 26. 

This result came as a surprise, since many predicted that the current Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis will reach the second round to face Šimonytė or more likely Nausėda.  Furthermore, candidate Šimonytė came first in the race, leaving the favourite Nausėda in the second place.

Šimonytė nominee of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (even though not the party member) received 31.13 percent of the vote, and Nausėda, an independent candidate, garnered 30.95 percent support.  Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, the presidential candidate of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, came in third with 19.72 percent.

This is what the candidate Gitanas Nausėda have to say in his Facebook post after the results were clear: ‘I have always said that my only support is the Lithuanian people. This evening I understood just how strong it is – in 45 of 60 municipalities, citizens expressed the most trust in me and to me this is the most important result of the first round of elections. When raising my candidacy, I sought to represent all of Lithuania’s people and I am happy you head this message. I thank You and invite everyone to actively participate in the second round of elections! I was and am convinced – today Lithuania needs a uniting and strong president, one who is independent of party influence.’

Šimonytė and Nausėda in the results

Ingrida Šimonytė said this: ‘Throughout this campaign I was told to go to various places, the floor and the ceiling. It’s just that I know well that the only ones to decide this are the voters. I felt well how much support there is. Thus, first of all I thank for every vote. In Vilnius, Marijampolė, Naisiai and everywhere else. Even in those municipalities where a different candidate is first, in many cases the difference is just one or two percent. Percentages will no longer matter in the second round because whoever is first is the victor. In the first round everything is important. There are many of us and we are strong.

Lithuania has made one clear statement – intimidation, weird declarations about “divorce and maiden names” may have the reverse effect on people. Freedom and the opportunity to tell a politician, who deifies himself that he is no overlord of ours, that’s a part of our identity. In other terms – we will not yield.’

Communications expert Karolis Žukauskas had a great analysis of the first round of elections in his Facebook post:

‘Of the five big cities, two (Klaipėda and Šiauliai) were won by Nausėda, three – by Šimonytė. If we add on another five based on size – they were all won by Nausėda.

Skvernelis lost but…

Skvernelis did not even win places that his campaign mentioned as potential victories – his hometown of Marijampolė and Lazdijai, where their mayor won recently.

A rebellion may arise in Karbauskis’ domain. In 2016, in Naisiai the “Farmers” received 78% of the vote, now Skvernelis only got 48% of the vote there. In Naisiai there even a voter each, who voted for Mazuronis and Tomaszewski. Everything’s clear on the first one – a local real estate broker trading in houses. But where is there a Pole in Naisiai?

As I write this post in the morning, both Nausėda and Šimonytė have shared their thanks or campaign headquarters images on Facebook, while silence still reigns from Saulius Skvernelis. Some still await his congratulations with the won Golden Lion in Venice’s Biennale, but we can probably forget that.

Mažvydas Jastramskis correctly observed – PM Skvernelis received a similar number of votes as did the “Farmers” in the 2016 elections. So where is this fallen trust in the “Farmers”, based on which they keep promising to withdraw from government?

Much can still happen in the second round because the “Farmers’” die hard fans are already considering boycotting the second round. This is an original message found on Facebook and being spread in comments: “Really, it is now time for R. Karbauskis, A. Juozaitis, S. Skvernelis, V. Bakas, A. Širinskienė, S. Malinauskas to Publicly Urge the Lithuanian People to Boycott the second round of the Presidential elections.” If I were in Šimonytė‘s team, I’d pay for the spread of this message.

The Central Electoral Commission’s work in these elections, where upon arriving at your constituency you may not have received your ballot – I’ll let that be without comment.

Naglis Puteikis, again!

The absolute victor of these elections is Naglis Puteikis. Even without wanting to be president, he obtained 0.8% of support in Lithuania. Imagine what a power this is – you don’t want to do something, but 10 thousand people shout “Do it! Do it!”

On the other hand, Puteikis burned up due to support for another two candidates – Skvernelis and Juozaitis, but they both burned up as well, so it was a sort of Puteikis burning up squared. He takes to the ranks of political corpses alongside Paksas.

I wonder, what the “Farmers” are thinking, accusing the Conservatives that due to their rule many Lithuanians had to emigrate, but during these elections, the emigrants overwhelmingly supported the Conservative-backed Šimonytė?

Non-journalist Rūta Janutienė is outraged on Facebook that Skvernelis did not reach the second round and blames votes handed to unpopular candidates for this, “Now wat, puidokas-es, juozaitniks, verygomaniacs and other cute and naïve people – did you participate in the celebration of democracy?” Let me clarify that even if we added Juozaitis, Puidokas and Puteikis’ votes to Skvernelis’, he would still be left where he is – outside the second round.

Kaunas and Matijošaitis donuts

Of the three major cities, the endorsements of two of their mayors worked or matched with the victors, while for one it didn’t work. In Kaunas, where SS only obtained 15% of the vote despite Matijošaitis‘donut doping. Quite few, surprising.

If you wish to aid a candidate, do not publicly endorse. This applies for the Kaunas, Šiauliai and Druskininkai mayors, who supported Skvernelis, but he still failed in all these cities. Even in the kingdom of Druskininkai, Skvernelis was left third.

The most notable victory for Skvernelis, from what I have found was in Rusnė constituency. He obtained 61.5% of the vote or 444 votes there. That’s what you get with the overpass (where MP Skvernelis declared about his participation in the Presidential elections) – a crushing victory. Since Skvernelis is 150 thousand votes from the second round, I calculated that he would have had to build 337 overpasses in Lithuania, he would then enter the second round.

For Mazuronis and Puteikis, these elections herald the ends of their political careers. In the 2014 elections, Puteikis obtained 124 thousand votes and only through his and Krivickas’ heads failed to enter Seimas. Ten years ago, Mazuronis received 84 thousand votes in the presidential elections. Now both failed to even get one percent, that is to say 8-10 thousand votes.

Reactions in the HQ’s told it all

You can understand why Skvernelis was so miserable – this result would have been sufficient to take him into the second round in the 2002, 2004 and 2014 presidential elections. but not this year.

Overall, it is not weird that the most miserable photos are from SS’ campaign headquarters. And not just because of the results, but also due to the overall look – it’s like the 90s. Much is reflected by this photo:

The campaign headquarters of the year award goes to N. Puteikis’ headquarters in the Can Can pizzeria, where according to LRT you could find two friends of Puteikis’, but the candidate himself never made an appearance.

The voting trends of Vilnius and Kaunas are very similar. It will be interesting to see in next year’s Seimas elections whether the Conservatives have truly retaken Kaunas.

The activity of some of Vilnius’ districts is absolutely massive – practically the entire town centre exceeded 70% voter turnout. I can’t be bothered to check and compare with the 2016 Seimas elections, but I guess that it was far lower.

How should Mazuronis feel when he does not even surpass a person, who doesn’t vote for himself in the elections and advises others not to as well?

It now seems that Skvernelis will fall under 20%, where the other two leaders take over 30%. A far greater gap than anyone expected, sociological surveys also showed a smaller gap.

What will Juozaitis and Puidokas do now? Convert their support into a new party?

On referenda…

Both referenda voted Yes, but both failed. It’s a signal to politicians that there is need for an alternative idea on dual citizenship.

What is amazing is that based on my calculations, in the referendum on reducing the number of members of Seimas, an entire 120 thousand voters did not take or did not submit their ballot, which allowed to scupper this populist nonsense.

It is currently 4:40, the final results aren’t in – prepare, in two weeks we will know who our president is only at a similar time because we will have to wait for the results from Vilnius, lacking which nothing will be clear. In the best case it will be by 3 AM, but definitely not 11PM, which is when the second round participants were clear this time, Karolis Žukauskas ended his post in Facebook

Valatka summery: 2:0 to open Lithuania

Political commentator Rimvydas Valatka first thoughts after the first round of presidential elections summons it up very nicely:

It was a really good game. A goal was scored into the police state’s goal. An entire two. 2:0 to an open Lithuania. But the intrigue and finally the result was created not by the 9 or rather, not so much by the 9 players, who long struggled on the pitch with the same half-assed throws and passes, but the audience. Figuratively speaking, everyone who could vote yesterday did so.

The battle was definitely not for honour. It was on what direction Lithuania chooses – whether it will remain an open society or whether it will finally turn into a closed society of prohibitions where the head of state is an angry politician inclined to ban everything and to whom everyone, who is not with him, is an enemy.

Whining about two Lithuanias and social segregation is no longer enough to bring tears to the nation’s eyes. Where’s the proof? If you have Šimonytė in the finals, who was the minister of finance during the darkest days of the global financial crisis and not Skvernelis, whose rule was during years of a rising economy and him splurging state funds as if they were his own, just to be elected, what other proof do you need?

Of course, you can predict what squealing we will have already this morning from hedge to hedge. When not only the living, but also the dead will be raised by the lord of Naisiai for their judgement day. But, damnit, on this beautiful and warm night it matters not, whether the karbauskites will squeal or not.

Tonight, the most important news is that the nation displayed exceptional wisdom and stopped the policeman in the bush he never managed to jump out from. Lithuania banned the politics of banning.

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