EU parliament in tense election for new president

2017-01-17 20:23
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Strasbourg - The European Parliament elects a new president on Tuesday in a vote that promises to be stormy after a coalition aimed at keeping eurosceptics out of power broke down.

The winner will replace Germany's Martin Schulz, who during five years in office made the role far more powerful and prominent than it had ever been before.

The new president will lead the EU's only elected body, which will have the final say on a Brexit deal expected in two years time.

The 751 members of the parliament will cast secret ballots in Strasbourg, France. The vote can go to a maximum of four rounds.

The main candidates are both Italian: center-right politician Antonio Tajani, and socialist Gianni Pittella. Another five candidates have little chance.

"I am almost sure the winner will have a link with Italy," joked Liberal candidate Guy Verhofstadt - a former Belgian premier who owns a vineyard in Italy.

Schulz is meanwhile going back to politics in Germany.

Shifting the monopoly

But the contest has been a bitter one as a long-standing agreement between the two political groups broke down.

Tajani, a former spokesperson for Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and ex-European commissioner, is the candidate of the European People's Party (EPP), the largest group in the assembly.

The EPP, which counts German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a member, says there was an agreement under a "grand coalition" that it should get the position, as a socialist, Schulz, held it last time.

The two groups have rotated the leadership of parliament between them for almost every year since the 1970s.

But Pittella says he will not accept an EPP "monopoly" of the EU's top jobs, held by EPP members Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, and Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council.

A Tajani win could therefore prompt calls for a reshuffle of the top jobs, adding unwelcome instability to an already crisis-hit union.

Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit negotiator, meanwhile saw his chances dip after a failed merger last week with Italy's populist 5-Star Movement.

The grand coalition has been seen as limiting the influence of Eurosceptic groups led by Britain's UKIP and France's National Front, after they made stunning gains in the last European Parliament elections in May 2014.

The anti-EU movement has since gained strength, with Britons voting to leave the bloc in a shock referendum result last June, while across the Atlantic a similar wave of populism took Donald Trump to the US presidency.

Read more on:    eu  |  europe

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.