Lithuania selects next President as inequality, poverty top issues

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Despite Lithuania’s long economic upswing, regional differences in wages and polarisation of population are key national problems before the Lithuanian presidential election due on Sunday, May 12.

French news agency AFP reports that a total nine candidates are vying to replace two-term independent incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite, but surveys show that only three stand any real chance of making it to the expected May 26 run-off coinciding with European parliament elections.

Top candidated are centre-left Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, conservative-backed ex-finance minister Ingrida Šimonytė and independent economist Gitanas Nausėda.

«Citizens are thirsty for social justice and seek a candidate who can bridge existing social polarisation,» Donatas Puslys, an analyst at the Vilnius Policy Analysis Institute, told AFP.

AFP evaluates that phenomenal annual wage growth, around 10% in recent years has raised the average gross salary to 970 euros, yet poverty and income inequality remain among the highest in the EU, largely due to weak progressive taxation.

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