Lithuanians Vote in Presidential Election Overshadowed by Russia

VILNIUS – Lithuania holds its presidential election on Sunday, with incumbent Gitanas Nauseda expected to secure victory after a campaign focused on security concerns. The Baltic nation, a staunch ally of Ukraine since Russia’s 2022 invasion, remains wary of being Moscow’s next target.

Nauseda, 60, a former senior economist, won 44% of the votes in the first round on May 12, falling short of the 50% needed for an outright win. He faces Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, 49, of the centre-right Homeland Union party, who came second with 20%.

Amid heightened security fears, a recent poll found that over half of Lithuanians believe a Russian attack is possible. Nauseda has labeled Russia as an enemy and emphasized the need to resist destabilization efforts. Both candidates advocate for increasing defense spending to at least 3% of GDP.

Nauseda, a social conservative, opposes legal recognition of same-sex civil partnerships, while Simonyte supports more openness and tolerance. The president of Lithuania has a semi-executive role, influencing foreign and security policy, representing the country in the EU and NATO, and appointing key officials.

This election marks the second face-off between Nauseda and Simonyte, with Nauseda having won the 2019 run-off with 66% of the vote.