Lithuanians are voting on Sunday in a parliamentary election, which is expected to bring opposition leftists and populists to power amid growing discontent with the government’s austerity policies.
Opinion polls suggest the country’s ruling center-right coalition led by Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius is set to lose power as austerity-weary voters are ready to support the center-left Social Democrats led by Algirdas Butkevicius and the left-wing populist Labor Party of controversial Russian-born ex-minister and businessman Viktor Uspaskich.
The Kubilius government took office at the end of 2008 amidst the global financial and economic crisis and was forced to raise taxes and cut spending to stave off the tiny Baltic nation’s default on its debts.
Lithuania has been able to weather the economic and financial meltdown but living standards have fallen sharply since then, making Lithuanians weary of belt-tightening policies.
Lithuanians are also expected to say “no” at a non-binding referendum being held simultaneously with the parliamentary poll to plans to build a new nuclear power plant in the Baltic republic to replace a Soviet-era facility that was shut down in 2009.