Lithuania’s co-ruling Social Democrats appear to have won the most votes nationwide in local elections held on March 1, according to preliminary results. However, the centre-left party looks to have stuttered in the main urban centres.
The Social Democrats took 19.08% of the vote nationwide to win one third of direct mayoral contests. It was followed by the Christian Democrat Homeland Union with 15.75%.
The centre-right Liberal Movement, with 15.39%, came in next, its rise the biggest surprise in the election. In the 2011 vote, it took 98 seats; this year it will occupy 216 across the country.
The Social Democrat party, meanwhile, will be unhappy to find itself trailing to the right-wing and liberal opposition in the country's biggest cities. It failed to make it to the run-off vote – to be held on March 15 - in any of Lithuania's six largest cities. That weakness is considered a negative sign for the coalition leader ahead of national elections next year.
The party's coalition partners also struggled. Order and Justice, the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania - which ran together with the Alliance of Russians – also suffered setbacks, taking just 8% and 6%, respectively.
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