Lithuanian presidential candidate Valdas Adamkus
The Baltic state of Lithuania goes to the polls on Sunday 13 June for a first-round presidential election, called following the impeachment in April of President Rolandas Paksas.
Five candidates are standing, and the winner will have to get more than 50% of the vote to avoid going to a run-off.
Rolandas Paksas became president in February 2003 having won a surprise second-round victory over the popular incumbent Valdas Adamkus. However, in April of this year Mr Paksas became the first European leader to be impeached for having breached the constitution in a corruption scandal. Despite his continuing denials of any wrongdoing, Mr Paksas has been barred from standing in any future presidential election. Former President Adamkus is currently favourite in Sunday's poll.
Lithuania is a parliamentary democracy, with supreme legislative authority invested in the 141-member Seimas (parliament), elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. The government comprises a prime minister and cabinet. It is currently governed by the leftist government of Algirdas Brazauskas, the last communist party leader in Soviet-era Lithuania. The president, who acts as a check on power, is elected directly for a five-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms.
Valdas Adamkus: 77-year-old former president, ousted from office by Rolandas Paksas in the election run-off of 5 January 2003. Mr Adamkus is the current favourite with around 30% support, according to recent polls, although he is said to lack support among Lithuania's rural poor. A returnee from the United States, Mr Adamkus served as president between 1998 and 2003 and is standing as an independent, but enjoys the backing of the right-wing Liberal-Centre Union. He has been an active supporter of Lithuania's membership of the EU and Nato, and in the past advocated the idea of the country's rapid modernisation.
Vilija Blinkeviciute: Currently minister for labour and social security, aged 44, is standing for the New Union-Social Liberals, part of the governing coalition. Has a popular touch and her woman-of-the-people approach has propelled her to second place in recent polls, with close to 15% support.
Petras Austrevicius: Chief negotiator in Lithuania's talks with the EU, the pro-business Mr Austrevicius, aged 41, has broad backing in the opposition Conservative and Labour parties. Praised for his role as a tough negotiator, Austrevicius has gained steadily in recent polls despite his stiff manner.
Ceslovas Jursenas: 66-year-old acting speaker of parliament, who is standing for the governing Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (SD). Analysts say his main assets are his broad appeal as well as a clean image and warm personality.
Kazimiera Prunskiene: Aged 61, was Lithuania's first prime minister after the country restored independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, and has received public backing from the ousted Mr Paksas. She is standing for the centre-left Farmers and New Democracy Union.
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