WORLD BRIEFING / LITHUANIA

Times Wire Reports

The European Union's budget chief was poised to become Lithuania's first female president after a landslide victory in a vote overshadowed by the Baltic country's ailing economy, preliminary official results showed.

Dalia Grybauskaite, the EU budget commissioner and a karate black belt, had 69% of the vote with more than 95% of ballots counted. The election commission said the preliminary turnout was 51%, just enough to avoid a runoff.

Social Democrat lawmaker Algirdas Butkevicius was a distant second with 12%, according to the partial results. Each of the five other candidates got less than 7% of the votes.

Lithuania, along with Baltic neighbors Estonia and Latvia, ranks among Europe's most depressed economies in the global downturn, and many voters hope Grybauskaite, 53, can help the country rebound.

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