Parliamentary Elections

October 11, 2020 and October 25, 2020


After taking a lead in the first round of voting on October 11, the center-right Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats solidified their victory in the second-round on October 25, winning 50 of the 141 seats in the Lithuanian Parliament. The leader of the current governing coalition, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, was the next most successful party, claiming 32 seats. Homeland Union’s candidate for prime minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, announced after the election that she would seek to build a coalition with the Liberal Movement and Freedom Party, who won 13 and 11 seats respectively, bringing the likely coalition’s majority to 74 of 141 seats. Voter turnout was 47% for the first round and 39.7% for the second.


  • Unicameral parliament in a semi-presidential republic; there are 141 seats in Lithuania’s parliament (the Seimas); members are elected to four-year terms.
  • Lithuania has a parallel voting process in which voters cast two separate ballots. 71 members are elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority. This occurs over the course of two rounds: the first was on October 11 and the necessary run-offs are on October 25. The second ballot determines the composition of a countrywide, multi-member constituency. This is decided by a separate vote based on proportional representation, which was completed on October 11.
  • Six parties passed the 5% threshold to qualify for the seats determined by the proportional vote.
  • Turn-out for the first round was low, estimated to be 47%.
  • The prime minister is appointed by the president and approved by the parliament.
  • The incumbent centrist agrarian party, the Lithuanian Farmers and Green Union (LVŽS), is the largest member of the governing coalition, which also includes the center-left Social Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania (LSDDP) and the conservative Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance (LLRA). The current prime minister is Saulius Skvernelis, an LVŽS member.


  • Lithuanian Farmers and Green Union (LVŽS): a centrist, socially conservative, agrarian green party led by Ramūnas Karbauskis. They have been criticized for a recent rise in Covid-19 cases and have promised to increase social spending to assuage voter frustration with growing unemployment. Despite a recent rise in cases, are mostly running on their record and relative success managing the crisis: other than Ireland, Lithuania has had the least severe contraction of economic output in the EU. Pro-EU; pro-NATO; support a strong stance against Russia.
  • Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD): Lithuania’s largest center-right party and largest member of the opposition coalition. Platform focuses on improving government services and economic growth. They have criticized the current government for its handling of the pandemic, increasing public expenditure, and habit of giving handouts to pensioners. Pro-EU and favor an increase in NATO’s presence in Lithuania.
  • Social Democratic Party of Lithuania (LSDP): progressive, center-left party and junior member of the opposition coalition. Strong focus on workers’ rights and inequality; promise to increase the progressiveness of Lithuania’s income tax code. Pro-EU and pro-NATO; support a strong EU response to Russian aggression.
  • Labour Party (DP): a center-left, populist party led by businessman Viktor Uspaskich; not affiliated with either governing or opposition coalitions. Platform focuses on addressing the economic ills they claim the current coalition has failed to address and on improving business conditions for investment. Pro-EU; pro-NATO; support strong defense spending.
  • Liberal Movement (LRLS): a center-right party and junior member of the opposition. Have been highly critical of the current government’s regulatory policy, which they perceive as overly restrictive, and are running on a pro-business and anti-regulation platform. Seek to enhance cooperation in the EU and NATO on security and to build a strategic partnership with the U.S., including on supporting democracy in Eastern Europe.
  • Freedom Party: a recently formed, unaffiliated, center-left party. Focuses primarily on staking out progressive stances on social issues, such as LGBTQ rights and recreational drug use, in effort to court the growing constituency of young, urban middle-class voters. Their platform also emphasizes pro-business policies, such as reducing regulation and cutting taxes. Support deeper EU integration and cooperation with the US and NATO on defense.

Impact on U.S. Interests

  • Lithuania has been a member of NATO and the European Union since 2004. NATO has stationed a multinational battalion-sized battlegroup in Lithuania since 2017 as part of the Alliance’s Enhanced Forward Presence posture. Lithuania also hosts a NATO Center of Excellence on Energy Security.
  • Lithuania has taken a leadership role on EU policy toward Belarus since the flawed August 9th presidential election and plays host to opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya. A majority of political parties support the government’s position and foreign policy is not a significant factor in the elections. While the Lithuanian population is Russian-skeptic, there are some Russia-friendly politicians and oligarchs in Lithuania—and disinformation can be a challenge. However, Lithuania has been successful in diversifying its energy supplies from its reliance on Russian energy: only 19% of the country’s primary energy consumption is sourced from Russian gas. Altough Russia remains Lithuania’s largest trade partner, the country is overall resistant to Russian influence.
  • Lithuania has also largely shunned Chinese investment. Earlier this year, it rejected a Chinese offer to invest in the construction of a new deep-water port in Klaipeda on security grounds. Overall, Lithuania has comparatively low amounts of Chinese foreign direct investment relative to the rest of the EU. There have also been bilateral diplomatic tensions over support from Lithuanian politicians for Tibet and Taiwan.

Key Issues to Watch

  • Even before the outbreak of Covid-19 (by a recent official count, Lithuania has had 8,899 infections and 103 deaths), the state of the economy, unemployment, and health care were top issues in voters’ minds. The leading concerns have been poverty, income inequality, taxation, and concerns over wages, pensions, and a high cost of living. The Lithuanian Farmers and Green Union have promised to address the wealth gap between the capital Vilnius and rural provinces, while also touting their successful management of the pandemic. Supporters of opposition parties have rejected these claims, noting that, despite strict restrictions, there has been a surge in Covid cases and unemployment has jumped from 9 to 14%.
  • The pandemic may also reduce voter turnout as older voters comprise a sizable portion of the supporters of the leading Farmers party, as well as their rivals in the Social Democratic Party and Homeland Union party. This seems to have been borne out in the first round, where turnout was only 47%.
  • Young Lithuanians continue to leave their country, which has impacted the labor market for years. The Farmers and Green Union capitalized on this issue in the 2016 elections by promising to tweak the labor and housing markets to incentivize young workers to stay home. As a result of this problem, mainstream parties have come to share a similar position that migration is a net positive for the country.
  • Political corruption, while not widespread, rears its head from time to time and can impact voters’ views. Key leaders in the Labour Party and Freedom Movement have recently dealt with corruption scandals, from which they are still recovering politically.

Polls and First Round Results

Before the first round on October 11, polls showed the Farmers party as the likely leader, followed by the conservative Homeland Union and then the Social Democratic Party. The Labour Party, Liberal Movement, Freedom and Justice party, and Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance were all projected to receive under 10%.

The actual results for the first round—which decided the proportional makeup of the countrywide, multi-member constituency—went rather differently. The Homeland Union did exceptionally well, taking 24.8% of the 70 seats. The Farmers were next at 17.5%, followed by Labour and the Social Democrats at 9.5% and 9.3%, respectively. The Liberal Movement received 6.8%. In a surprise, the recently formed Freedom Party received 9%, whereas the Freedom and Justice party and the Electoral Action of Poles party did not reach the 5% threshold.

In other words, six parties earned seats in the Seimas. Three are center-left and three are center-right, led by the Homeland Union. However, one should not expect a clean divide along these lines. A few facts are notable, all of which bode well for the Homeland Union’s prospects: none of the Farmers’ current coalition partners reached the 5% threshold; one center-left party, the Social Democrats, are already aligned with the Homeland Union in the opposition; another center-left party, Labour, are seen as a potential candidate to go either way; and, in Lithuanian politics, parties often splinter in order to round out the majorities needed for coalition-building.

Overall, the center-right and Homeland Union (whose candidate for prime minister is former finance minister Ingrida Simonyte) appears to have the upper hand. However, the second-round voting on October 25th—which will determine the remaining 68 representatives of the 71 single-member constituencies—will decide the matter. In addition, the center-left has historically performed better in the second round, so it would be premature to hand the election to the center-right yet.