European Parliament elects new president 0

Antonio Tajani of the European People’s Party (EPP) has been elected as the European Parliament’s new president. The 63-year-old Italian defeated another Italian, S&D socialist Gianni Pitella, on Tuesday and is set to replace Germany’s Martin Schulz.

In the past, Tajani served as the spokesman for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and as a European commissioner.

The battle among the two Italians was won by Tajani on a vote of 351-282 in the decisive final round, which only the top two candidates managed to enter.

Before voting began, the EEP, the largest group in the block’s legislature, formed a coalition with the ALDE liberals, that gave Tajani the required lead over Pittella.

Members of the European Parliament take part in a plenary session marking the election of the assembly’s new President in Strasbourg, eastern France, on January 17, 2016. (Photos by AFP)

“This was as democratic process and as I said today, I will be the president of all, I will respect all members of parliament and all groups,” said Tajani.

“We must devote our attention to all those who are in tough living conditions,” he added while giving a short acceptance speech, during which he also dedicated his victory to the victims of a deadly August earthquake in central Italy and all those injured by terrorism.

In a statement issued to congratulate Tajani, Pittella noted that it had been some time since the European Parliament had elected a president “in a fully transparent and open competition without any pre-arranged deals.”

“Today, the political landscape in the European Parliament is dramatically changed with the birth of a new conservative block. We will constructively oppose this block,” added Pittella.