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Europees Commissaris Grybauskaite wint verkiezingen in Litouwen (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER), gepubliceerd op maandag 18 mei 2009, 9:29.

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – EU's budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite won by overwhelming majority the presidential elections in Lithuania, becoming the first female head of state as the country struggles through its worst economic recession since the early ‘90s.

"The taste of victory carries with it the weight of responsibility," Ms Grybauskaite told reporters on Sunday night at her election headquarters in Vilnius.

Ms Grybauskaite, who stood as an independent, won with over 69 percent of the vote, while her nearest challenger came in second with only 12 percent, according to official results announced on Monday.

Her EU-background and straight forward talk seemed to convince voters, who turned out in proportion of over 51 percent.

As Lithuania's first female president, Ms Grybauskaite, who also holds a black belt in martial arts, will be able to veto the country's budget and fire ministers, but otherwise will have limited executive powers.

The president's main power lies in foreign policy and here she has promised to be less confrontational, especially towards Russia.

So far, she has approved with the government's austerity measures, as the economy shrunk by over 12 percent in the first quarter, although she said some tax rises have been a mistake.

Frustration turned into violence in January when demonstrators smashed windows in the parliament building in Vilnius. It was then when Ms Grybauskaite decided to run for presidency.

Her duties as budget commissioner are currently taken over by Siim Kallas, EU commissioner for budgetary control and fight against fraud.

The Lithuanian government will have to decide whether it appoints someone new or lets Mr Kallas carry on her tasks until the end of the Barroso commission, whose mandate expires on 31 October.

After Ms Grybauskaite's inauguration on 12 July, the government has to resign and be re-appointed. She is expected to re-approve conservative Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, head of a four-party centre-right coalition, but has said she would use her powers for a reshuffle. "We shall see which ministers remain in office...," she told reporters.

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