Lithuanian Premier Threatens to Quit If Presidential Bid Fails

(Bloomberg) -- Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who’s running third in opinion polls before this weekend’s presidential election, said he would step down if he doesn’t advance to the second round later this month.

As populist politicians are jostle for greater influence across the European Union before parliamentary elections this month, the candidates for Lithuanian head of state are promising to improve living standards in a country with the second-worst inequality in the bloc.

Skvernelis’s ruling Peasants & Greens Union backed a proposal earlier on Tuesday to quit the government if its candidates lose the presidential ballot and European Parliament elections later this month. Party Chairman Ramunas Karbauskis earlier said the votes are a test of public support for the government’s work.

“If elections go unsuccessfully, then it would be an assessment of my work,” said Skvernelis, whose government has raised pensions and introduced child benefits.

Skvernelis is trailing in polls behind opposition candidate Ingrida Simonyte, an ex-finance minister, and former SEB Bank economist Gitanas Nauseda, an independent. Lithuanian law stipulates that governments resign and seek reappointment after presidential elections.

Karbauskis suggested the opposition Homeland Union should take the initiative of forming a coalition if the ruling party loses elections. If the opposition fails to form a minority government, parliament could dissolve itself and call a snap ballot.

“I’m addressing society to respond to the question if this is what leadership they want,” Karbauskis said in a TV interview on LRT. “Why should we continue reforms for another year and a half if the public doesn’t want this?”

President Dalia Grybauskaite said the resignation threat was due to "tensions of the election season" and that after the votes "everything else will calm down."

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