MEPs hold crunch vote for European Parliament leaderPTI | Strasbourg | Updated: 03-07-2019 12:40 IST | Created: 03-07-2019 12:38 IST
The race to fill top EU jobs moves to European Parliament on Wednesday as MEPs elected in May vote to choose a new president. The vote, set for 9:00 am (0700 GMT) comes a day after the painful agreement reached by the EU's 28 national leaders in Brussels on nominating a president of the European Commission and other key posts.
The new MEPs, who took office on Tuesday during a brief inaugural session, will vote from Wednesday morning by secret ballot to elect the successor to Antonio Tajani, a conservative from Italy. The 751-seat parliament -- based in Strasbourg, France -- is more fragmented than ever after a vote in May that saw solid gains by the liberals and Greens as well as the far right and eurosceptics.
The two-and-a-half year presidency term is one of the top jobs that the major European political families are seeking to dole out over the next weeks, even if it is less coveted than that of the president of the Commission or European Central Bank. The EU leaders on Tuesday filled out most of the puzzle by nominating Ursula von der Leyen as commission chief and Christine Lagarde to head the European Central Bank, though their appointments still need confirmation.
Left unknown is whether the parliament will follow their national leaders' suggestion that the chamber's presidency should be shared for the next five years by the Socialists and Tajani's EPP. Germany's Manfred Weber, head of the EPP group, took note of the outcome of the Brussels summit by renouncing to run as parliament head, after having already thrown in the towel in the race for the Commission's presidency.
"It is normal, that after two and a half years of an EPP president, now it is up to the Socialists to present a candidate," Weber told a press briefing in Strasbourg. "We are ready to check with the Socialists for a candidate and to give our support," he said. But the Social-Democratic group in the European Parliament, second only to the EPP in terms of the number of members, put forward Italian MEP David Sassoli, after criticising the agreement reached between the 28, which it described as "deeply disappointing".