VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) – A new pro-Russian populist political party stumbled in elections Sunday, apparently failing to get enough support to win a stake in the government in the second and final round of parliamentary elections, a vote marked by record low turnout.

The Labor Party’s strong first-round showing prompted the country’s more established political parties to band together in an effort to defeat Labor, which they feared would steer Lithuania from its pro-Western track and back toward Moscow.

With more than 99 percent of the votes counted, 28 of the 66 seats up for grabs went to the largest traditional parties – the Social Democrats, the New Union, the Conservative Fatherland Union and Liberal Center Union – according to early estimates by the state Election Commission.

The final results will be announced Oct. 31, and the first session of the new parliament is scheduled to convene Nov. 15.

The Labor Party, led by Russian-born businessman Viktor Uspaskich, won 16 seats, but analysts said that may not be enough for it to get a stake in a new coalition government.

Meeting with reporters at his election headquarters, Uspaskich said his party would not be able to claim a majority. But he didn’t rule out talks with other smaller parties that together with Labor could become the main opposition.

As in the first round of voting Oct. 10, Uspaskich’s party, which campaigned on a platform of higher wages and lower taxes, won more seats than the other parties, but not enough to overtake the combined strength of the country’s Social Democrats, Center Union and Fatherland Union.

The incumbent ruling coalition of the Social Democrats and New Union picked up another 12 seats in the Seimas, and the Fatherland Union got 14. The three parties won a combined total of 56 seats in the 141-member parliament in the first and second rounds of voting. In contrast the Labor Party now has 39 seats, not enough to counter.

Just 40 percent of Lithuania’s 2.4 million eligible voters turned out in the second round, a decline attributed to the rainy weather that rolled across the Baltic state of 3.5 million Sunday. It was the first parliamentary election since Lithuania joined the European Union and NATO earlier this year.

The turnout, observers said, was the lowest in a national election since Lithuania regained its independence amid the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.


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