With only 12 days left until the balloting in Lithuania’s presidential election, parliament chairman and leader of the governing Fatherland Union, Vytautas Landsbergis, stands a distant third in public opinion surveys. However questionable their methodology may be, the surveys consistently find the Lithuanian-American ecologist Valdas Adamkus and former prosecutor general Arturas Paulauskas leading the race virtually neck-to-neck, with Paulauskas gaining a slight edge in the latest polls. One of his most attractive campaign promises is a 20 percent tax cut across the board.
The 44-year-old Paulauskas, by far the youngest of the three major candidates, enjoys the almost open support of incumbent president Algirdas Brazauskas, who has desisted from seeking reelection and whose personal popularity tops that of all the candidates. Brazauskas has virtually endorsed Paulauskas by urging Lithuanians to vote for a young and future-oriented — as opposed to a past-oriented — figure.
Landsbergis led the struggle for restoration of Lithuanian independence in the last years of Soviet rule, and was the first chairman of parliament — in effect head of state — of the reborn country. Last weekend, Brazauskas published in the press an open letter attacking Landsbergis’ recently published memoirs of that period, "Baltic Breakthrough." Brazauskas — who at that time headed the Lithuanian Communist Party, seceded with it from the CPSU, and served as First Deputy Prime Minister in the first independent government — accuses Landsbergis of claiming excessive personal credit for the attainment of independence and of obscuring the "role of the people" in those events. (BNS, December 8)
Fatherland Union’s and the allied Christian Democrats’ efforts for Landsbergis at the grass roots do not seem to have significantly improved the candidate’s position. Barring some last-minute reversal of fortune, it seems increasingly likely at this point that the state’s founding father will lose the presidential race.
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