An Italian sailing champion turned MP who claimed political work could be done on a boat has resigned after claiming to be victim of a "media lynching" over his frequent absences from parliament.
Andrea Mura, 53, an internationally acclaimed professional sailor who has twice won the Ostar (Original Single-Handed Trans-Atlantic Race), was elected to the lower house of parliament in March with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
But after it was revealed that he turned up to only eight of the assembly’s 220 votes, he was swiftly accused by members of his own party of not being establishment enough.
When the no-shows were first made public last month by Openpolis website, which tracks politicians’ absenteeism and voting records, Mr Mura dismissed mounting criticism, telling his native Sardinian newspaper that politics wasn’t just conducted in parliament, but “could be done on a boat.”
The avid environmentalist said at the time he had always told his party that he saw himself as an "advocate of saving the ocean from plastic more than as a member of parliament."
Five Star expelled him from the party last week, calling his 96.8 per cent absentee rate indefensible.
The party campaigned on a pledge to do away with the excessive privileges of the elected elite.
Italian politicians are the highest-paid in Europe, with salaries of around €14,000 a month (£12,500).
Mr Mura claims he was given no chance to explain, adding that he had missed some sittings due to constituency commitments and a brief illness.
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He lamented being attached in the media with “ignominous and groundless accusations” that defamed his reputation.
“I’ve always taken forward my parliamentary mandate with the greatest seriousness" he said, adding that he now intended to return to his passion at sea “where there are the values I have always been inspired by: dedication, sacrifice and, like a good Sardinian, keeping one’s word.
"I will continue my battle for the defence of the sea and environment outside of parliament.”
Luigi Di Maio, the Five Star leader, publicly applauded Mr Mura’s decision, encouraging all other “absentee parliamentarians” to make a similar choice.