VILNIUS --- The Social Democratic party on Tuesday decided to name acting Parliamentary Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas their candidate in the upcoming presidential elections to replace impeached former president Rolandas Paksas.
While the Social Democrats, who are currently the senior partners in the parliamentary ruling majority, have not officially announced Jursenas' candidacy, sources close to party leadership told reporters on Tuesday that he would be the party representative chosen to run in the elections, which are to be held on June 13.
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, leader of the Social Democrats, all but confirmed the decision to nominate Jursenas when speaking by telephone to the political discussion show Pikas on LNK television.
Brazauskas had earlier on Tuesday told Lithuanian Radio that he had not decided whether to run himself, leading to speculation that the Jursenas candidacy may simply be a diversion tactic to foil a potential Paksas campaign for the post the disgraced president lost only one week ago.
The party's decision to field a candidate without consulting with right-wing politicians or even their Social Liberal-New Union governing partners shattered hopes that the mainstream parties would be able to rally behind one single candidate that could easily defeat Paksas, who has not yet decided if he will run.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Liberal Centrist Union announced its support for former president Valdas Adamkus, who has yet to make a decision on his candidacy, while Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis told reporters hours later he had urged acting President Arturas Paulauskas to throw his hat into the ring.