Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission yesterday kicked off the presidential election campaign. The voting is scheduled for December 21, with a runoff to be held on January 4 if necessary. Seven candidates managed to gather the 20,000 signatures needed for entering the race. According to opinion surveys, the front runners are (in descending order): Lithuanian-American Valdas Adamkus, 71, a retired official of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, former deputy prosecutor-general Arturas Paulauskas, 44, and Parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, 65. Local observers expect Landsbergis’s rating to rise once the campaign has started and the governing Fatherland Union begins working for its leader at the grass-roots. All the main candidates share the aspiration for Lithuania to join the European Union and NATO. President Algirdas Brazauskas has desisted from seeking reelection despite his popularity, which has further increased since he announced his decision. (BNS, November 17-18)
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