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Lithuania president in the lead as election goes to second round

Lithuania's president has taken a wide lead in her quest for re-election. However Dalia Grybauskaite is just shy of an overall majority on 46 per cent, meaning a second-round vote is needed.

Lithuania's first female president took a wide lead following the first round of voting on Sunday, emerging the clear favorite among the seven candidates. Receiving 46 per cent of the votes, incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite will face a run-off vote against Social Democrat politician and runner up Zigmantas Balcytis, who received 13.6 per cent.

"This is a great vote of confidence," President Grybauskaite told her supporters, urging them to turn out for the second round, which she is forecast to win.

The 58-year-old is an independent but has the backing of center-right parties in the former Soviet country. Before becoming president in 2009, Grybauskaite was the budget commissioner of the European Union.

Her popularity has risen after she strongly rejected Russia's annexation of Crimea. Lithuania, a NATO member, shares a border with Russia and also with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

"Defending Lithuania through military, economic and political means - these are my priorities because the current situation is very different from five years ago," Grybauskaite told reporters on Monday.

"I won't make compromises that could sell Lithuania short, something I seem to hear from my rival," she said.

Balcytis said on Monday he had a "real chance to win," urging the remaining five candidates to back him in the second round, scheduled for May 25.

jr/msh (AP, dpa)

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