Opinion surveys suggested that Mr Paulauskas, 44, was likely to win the first round and go through to a run-off with 71-year-old Lithuanian-American Valdus Adamkus, with the independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis trailing in third. Mr Landsbergis campaigned on his experience as the man who spearheaded the revolt against Moscow's rule, but commentators believe Lithuanians crave fresh faces.
Mr Paulauskas is a former prosecutor general whose work has spanned both the communist and post-communist eras. He had been endorsed by the popular outgoing president, Algirdas Brazauskas.
The most recent opinion poll, published by the Respublika newspaper, showed Mr Paulauskas with 33.9 per cent, Mr Adamkus with 29.3 per cent and Mr Landsbergis with 12.5 per cent. If no one gets more than 50 per cent of the votes, the two top candidates will face a run-off on 4 January.Reuse content