News2019.05.30 10:38

Meet the 11 Lithuanian MEPs heading to Brussels

Justinas Šuliokas, 2019.05.30 10:38

Meet Lithuania's 11 delegates heading to Brussels and Strasbourg this year – from a name synonymous with austerity in Lithuania, to a food magnate whose main preoccupation was maintaining legal immunity.

Six of them are going to Strasbourg and Brussels for the first time, while some others have already served multiple terms. Most are political old-timers, including a former prime minister and several ministers. None are truly eurosceptic, though some may raise a few European eyebrows.

Liudas Mažylis
Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats

An academic historian, Mažylis came to the public eye a few years ago when he discovered an original copy of the 1918 Lithuanian independence declaration in Berlin archives.

Massive media attention to the foundational document of modern Lithuania, and its discoverer, led to book deals, a TV show and, eventually, a spot on the list of the conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

Mažylis has expressed interest in working on science and research issues.

Rasa Juknevičienė
Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats

One of the most influential conservative figures, Rasa Juknevičienė is a veteran of Lithuanian politics. Former minister of defence and the first woman to head the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Juknevičienė's additional claim to fame rests on her mishaps on social media. A 2014 Facebook post, showing a praying Muslim at an airport, tagged “it gives you all kinds of thoughts”, has entered national folklore. Juknevičienė was also forced to apologize over another comment on social media, “unfortunately, only black” under a photo of homeless people in a street.

Andrius Kubilius
Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats

Former leader of the conservative Homeland Union, Kubilius was prime minister of Lithuania in 2008-2012 and 1999-2000. Having overseen austerity – and pension cuts – during the last economic crisis, Kubilius is one of the most unpopular politicians at home, but one held in high esteem abroad.

Vilija Blinkevičiūtė
Lithuanians Social Democratic Party

A social democratic matriarch, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė was Lithuania's minister of social security and labour between 2000 and 2008.

Since 2009, Blinkevičiūtė was in the European Parliament where she has marked herself as an active MEP working on social rights and gender equality.

Juozas Olekas
Lithuanians Social Democratic Party

Another veteran social democrat, Juozas Olekas served as Lithuania's minister of defence and, briefly, minister of health.

Olekas has said he is interested to work on defence and healthcare issues in the EP.

Bronis Ropė
Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union

Bronis Ropė has been re-elected for a second term in the EP with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

Former mayor of Ignalina, Ropė is a member of the Greens/EFA group in the EP, where his focus has been on regional development and agriculture.

Stasys Jakeliūnas
Lithuanian Farmer and Greens Union

Stasys Jakeliūnas fills in the spot vacated by another candidate of the Farmers and Greens Union, former basketball player Šarūnas Marčiulionis who would have made a colourful character in the EP but rejected the seat.

Jakeliūnas heads the Committee for Budget and Finance in the Lithuanian parliament, where he currently investigates the causes of the 2009 economic crisis. Jakeliūnas has gotten into a public spat with the central bank chief and has accused Scandinavian banks of contributing to the crisis and the European Commission of failing to assist Lithuania.

Viktor Uspaskich
Labour Party

A Russian-born food magnate and former leader of the Labour Party, Viktor Uspaskich has been into populist politics since before it was trendy in Europe. He returns to the EP for the third term.

Most of his time in Brussels and Strasbourg was taken up fighting Lithuanian prosecutors' requests to have his legal immunity lifted. At one point, Uspaskich even fled to Russia to escape corruption investigations.

Petras Auštrevičius
Liberal Movement

Re-elected to the EP for a second term, Petras Auštrevičius has played a big role in Lithuania's European integration as the chief negotiator in EU membership talks.

He unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, with a very catchy jingle (“For Petras, for Petras, for Petras!”), and was once again to be the Liberal Movement's candidate this year, but failed to present enough voter signatures supporting his candidacy.

Aušra Maldeikienė

An economics professor and MP, Aušra Maldeikienė is an eccentric and forceful presence in Lithuanian politics – her independent electoral committee was succinctly called “the train”.

Popular with young and progressive voters, Maldeikienė does not mince her words – she has said that the majority of Lithuanian parliament members are idiots and regularly accuses the media of unprofessional reporting.

Maldeikienė said this week she had been courted by ALDE and the Greens to join their groups, but had yet to make the choice.

Valdemar Tomaševski
Electoral Action of Poles - Christian Families Alliance

The long-time leader of the Electoral Action of Poles party, Valdemar Tomaševski has been re-elected to the EP for a third term.

Ultraconservative and pro-Russian, Tomaševski has been a self-styled warrior for Christian values, against abortion and LGBT+ rights. He has been among the less active members in the EP.

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