Viewing cable 09VILNIUS144
Title: OF 14 HATS IN THE RING FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION,

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09VILNIUS1442009-03-18 09:11:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #0144/01 0770911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180911Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3362
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000144 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV LH
SUBJECT: OF 14 HATS IN THE RING FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, 
ONE IS XXL 
 
¶1. SUMMARY: Lithuanian election officials have registered 
applications from 14 candidates for the presidential election 
in May, with current EU Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite being 
the front runner.  Voters will go to the polls on May 17.  If 
no candidate wins a majority, a second round of voting will 
be held June 7.  End summary. 
 
¶2. On March 16, Lithuanian election officials registered the 
last of 14 applicants to be candidates in the presidential 
election scheduled for May 17.  Candidates still must submit 
to the central election commission the signatures of 20,000 
voters by April 2 to secure a place on the May 17 ballot. 
The final list of candidates will be announced April 17, 
which will be the first official day of the campaign.  If no 
candidate wins a majority of the votes May 17, a runoff will 
be held on June 7, which is also the date for elections to 
the European Parliament. 
 
¶3. Surveys show that Grybauskaite looms above the competition 
and could win in the first round.  In fact, she routinely 
does so well in opinion polls that the director of a research 
company complained to us that almost nobody is bothering to 
order new polls related to the election.  The patriarchs of 
the two largest political parties, the Conservatives and the 
Social Democrats, have praised her, and the Conservative and 
Liberal Movement parties have formally endorsed her 
candidacy.  Even other candidates acknowledge that she will 
be difficult to beat. 
 
¶4. Grybauskaite, 53, has focused on European affairs for much 
of her career in government, though she did serve as deputy 
chief of mission at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington in 
1996-99.  She was Lithuania's first European Commissioner in 
2004 and is responsible for Financial Programming and Budget. 
 She served as Lithuania's Finance Minister in 2001-04. As 
Deputy Foreign Minister in 2000-01 she was a key figure in 
Lithuania's EU accession negotiations.  She was Lithuania's 
chief negotiator with the IMF and World Bank when she served 
as Deputy Finance Minister in 1999-2000. 
 
¶5. At this early stage, no other candidate has support of 
more than about 10 percent of likely voters, according to 
poll results.  Several candidates do have significant 
governmental experience or name recognition: 
 
-- Algirdas Butkevicius, Seimas (parliament) member and 
former Minister of Transportation and of Finance, is the 
newly elected leader of the Social Democrats, the largest 
opposition party. 
 
-- Valentinas Mazuronis is a Seimas member and deputy head of 
the Order and Justice Party, whose leader, Rolandas Paksas, 
was impeached from the presidency in 2004 and is 
constitutionally ineligible. 
 
-- Arunas Valinskas, speaker of the Seimas, is a former TV 
host who last year formed the National Revival Party, peopled 
largely with show-business names.  The party finished third 
in parliamentary elections and is one of four parties in the 
governing coalition. 
 
-- Kazimira Prunskiene, Lithuania's first post-independence 
prime minister in 1990-91, received 47 percent of the vote in 
the runoff of the 2004 presidential election.  After her 
Peasants' Party did not pass the threshold to be seated in 
the current Seimas and she lost in a single-mandate district 
race, she relinquished leadership of the party. 
 
Candidates with even lesser chances include: 
 
-- Algimantas Matulevicius, chairman of the Civil Democracy 
party and former Seimas member who got 2 percent of the vote 
in the 2004 presidential election; 
 
-- Loreta Grauziniene, Seimas member and deputy chairwoman of 
the Labor Party; 
 
-- Ceslovas Jezerskas, a reserve brigadier general running as 
an independent, though he is an Order and Justice Party 
member; 
 
-- Algirdas Pilvelis, publisher and editor of the daily 
newspaper "Lietuvos Aidas;" 
 
-- Valdemar Tomasevski, chairman of the Polish Election 
Action Party; 
 
-- Zigmantas Vaisvila, chairman of the Sajudis Initiative 
group; 
 
-- Vytautas Kundrotas, a publicist; 
 
-- Jonas Jankauskas, who describes himself as representing 
 
small and medium businesses, and 
 
-- Vidmantas Sadauskas, who has declined to release 
information about himself publicly. 
 
¶6. COMMENT: Except for her stint at the Lithuanian Embassy in 
Washington, Grybauskaite has spent most of Lithuania's years 
of independence focused on the European Union and other 
European affairs.  She has said that Lithuania must work more 
closely with the European Union to have an integrated 
approach to its former Soviet neighbors.  But she also has 
said that Lithuania must maintain good relations with the 
United States as fellow members of NATO, although she has not 
publicly set out her views of the U.S.-Lithuania 
relationship.  The parties that support her, as well as the 
parties supporting other major candidates, all favor strong 
relations with the United States.  End comment. 
CLOUD