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Lithuania’s Butkevicius Revises Stance on Euro, Nuclear Power

The head of Lithuania’s opposition Social Democrats, who expect to win today’s election, stepped back from previous disapproval of a swift adoption of the euro and building a nuclear power plant.

“My desire, as a former finance minister, is to introduce the euro as fast as possible since Lithuania doesn’t have any other path,” Algirdas Butkevicius said while waiting to vote today in Vilnius. “It’s a shame we didn’t manage in 2007.”

Butkevicius, 53, said he expected the Social Democrats, who led in the polls before today’s ballot, to win the most seats in parliament and take charge of forming a new ruling coalition, with him as the most likely prime minister. President Dalia Grybauskaite, who must name a new premier after elections, on Oct. 11 said the next Cabinet must preserve fiscal stability and prioritize energy-security projects.

A government led by the Social Democrats would try to ensure Lithuania meets all the criteria for adopting the European Union’s common currency, Butkevicius said. That means getting the fiscal deficit under 3 percent of gross domestic product this year “and reducing it from there,” he said.

He said a bigger challenge would be managing inflation, which has accelerated recently on rising prices for heating services, electricity and food.

Lithuanians are also participating today in a non-binding referendum on building a nuclear power plant with Japan’s Hitachi Ltd., under a plan backed by the ruling Homeland Union party and opposed by the Social Democrats.

“We are only against this project, which was rushed through parliament without a proper debate or competent economic valuation, but we are not against nuclear power in Lithuania,” Butkevicius told reporters after voting. “We need to behave responsibly.”

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