Many of Lithuania's MEPs don't guarantee support for von der Leyen

  • 2024-06-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Many of Lithuania's MEPs do not guarantee support for Ursula von der Leyen in her bid to secure a second term as president of the European Commission, saying that their decision will depend on the overall stance of their political groups in the European Parliament. 

Support for von der Leyen is expressed only by the MEPs from the conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), who belong to the same political family as the incumbent Commission chief, the center-right European People's Party. 

"We will certainly try to persuade (our opponents to support the current president's candidacy)," Andrius Kubilius, a conservative MEP re-elected for a second term, told journalists on Monday.

"The re-appointment of von der Leyen as president of the Commission should be seen as a common interest of Lithuania," the MEP said. 

"Firstly, it would really be bad, in these circumstances of war, of all the tensions, (...) not be able to appoint the European Commission's chief effectively, quickly, and rationally. Secondly, von der Leyen has shown herself as a decisive leader during this period," he added.

The HU-LCD won three out of Lithuania's 11 MEP seats in Sunday's elections. 

The Social Democrats, who won two seats, and the four parties that received one mandate each – the Liberal Movement, the Freedom Party, the Farmers and Greens Union, and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance – say they will decide after consultation within their European Parliament groups.

"We'll vote based on the program," MEP Petras Austrevicius of the Liberal Movement told journalists. "Talks will probably take time: both regarding positions and sharing responsibilities."

Vilija Blinkeviciute, the Social Democrats' leader re-elected to the European Parliament, said, "We'll consult. (...) Within the group, we have many issues that concern us. And then, of course, we'll decide. I think we'll find agreements and solutions, even though they may not be easy." 

Virginijus Sinkevicius, the Lithuanian member of the outgoing European Commission, does not guarantee his backing to the incumbent president either.

"Our relations are excellent, but this is political mathematics. I can speak for myself that I will be wholeheartedly supportive of her continuing as Commission president. The question is whether or not we will be part of a coalition," said Sinkevicius, who was elected as MEP on the ticket of the Democrats "For Lithuania", which is part of the Greens/EFA group.

"I know that many people have hopes in other groups that I will be the voice that will bring the Greens into the coalition. I think the Greens have to be in the coalition, but it will be a joint decision," he added.   

Only Petras Grazulis, another newly-elected MEP, said he would vote against von der Leyen's candidacy.

"Why should I vote for her?" said the politician, calling her a liberal.

The European People's Party won the most votes in the EP elections but will need a coalition to form a majority.