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Polls close in tight Lithuania run off vote

AFP , Sunday 23 Oct 2016
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Lithuania's leftwing government was fighting for survival Sunday in round two of a general election, clouded by an exodus of workers fuelling a demographic crisis in the Baltic eurozone state.

No exit polls were issued after the close of voting at 1700 GMT. Lithuania's election commission tallied turnout at 36.53 percent of the 2.5 million eligible voters an hour before polls closed.

Official results expected later Sunday were forecast to hand victory to either the opposition conservative Homeland Union or the centrist Lithuanian Peasants and Green Union party (LPGU).

Both parties scored just over 21 percent of the vote in round one of the election on October 9.

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius's Social Democrats were dealt a heavy blow coming in third with just 14.42 percent.

Three other smaller parties entered parliament, signalling complicated coalition talks.

Analysts have tipped Homeland Union's Gabrielius Landsbergis -- the 34-year-old grandson of Lithuanian independence icon Vytautas Landsbergis -- as likely to become the next prime minister.

They also point to the LPGU, headed by popular former national police chief Saulius Skvernelis, as potential kingmakers in coalition talks.

Landsbergis has said he is keen to forge a coalition with the LPGU but has ruled out any such deal with the Social Democrats.

Wage growth, job creation and curbing mass emigration were key rallying cries for candidates in this EU member of 2.9 million people, plagued by an exodus of workers seeking higher wages, many of them in Britain.

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