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Why did Sarunas Marciulionis give up his MEP seat?

Sarunas Marciulionis [Wikimedia]

By Angele Kedaitiene

One of the newly elected MEPs from Lithuaniua, Sarunas Marciulionis, gave up the mandate, on the next day after the elections.

Famous former basketball player Marciulionis was elected to the European Parliament from the list of the ruling Peasantries and Greens party. He is not a party member, but was invited by the party chairman Ramunas Karbauskis.

In a recent interview to DelfiTV Marciulionis said that his refusal was motivated by the changing situation in the European Parliament, by the increased share of nationalist and populist parties, especially of Brexit supporters, which could impede his original plan to establish a Commission for reintegration of sportsmen back into society, what has been his goal in the European Parliament. According to him, seeing the former sportsmen left on theirs own is painful, thus,  he planned this idea with colleagues of other countries on a civil, not political basis. Furthermore, he was hurt by those who reproached him his speeches during Soviet times at the end of the 1980s, in exchange of place at the Soviet basketball team,  and decided to stay away from the politics.

This could be true, Sarunas Marciulionis is famous for his honesty, he is the President of Lithuanian basketball league, a successful businessman with nation-wide network of basketball schools aiming at boosting the young basketball talents of Lithuania. Other sources say that he could be forced to refuse the mandate in favour of the next candidate of MEPs of Peasantries and Greens Union.

Indeed, this week has demonstrated turbulence in the ruling coalition of Lithuania, as two junior coalition partners Lithuanian socialdemocratic labour party and Order and Justice party have announced the withdrawal from the coalition, while leaving Peasantries and Green Union in a minority situation. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has announced the reshuffle of the Cabinet, he is not certain if to stay in his post any longer than the new President Gitanas Nauseda takes office by mid July. President Nauseda, who has to reaffirm the Government,  has initially said he would keep the recent one in place just 1,5 year ahead of the national parliament elections, although there are news he could pick his election rival Ingrida Simonyte as Prime Minster.

During last Sunday elections Lithuania has elected 11 MEPs. The opposition Homeland Union, Lithuanian conservatives, won the elections with 3 seats (Liudas Mazylis, Andrius Kubilius, Rasa Jukneviciene), 2 seats are won by Lithuanian social democrats (Vilija Blinkeviciute, Juozas Olekas), 2 seats – by Peasantries and Greens Union (Bronis Rope, Stasys Jakeliunas), 1 seat – by Labour party (Viktor Uspaskich) 1 seat – by Lithuanian Liberals Movement (Petras Austrevicius), 1 seat – by Polish electoral campaign (Voldemaras Tomasevskis), and 1 seat – by Ausra Maldeikiene civil society list (Ausra Maldeikiene). 6 out of 11 Lithuanian MEPs will go to the European Parliament for the first time. 

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