EU Parliament presidency hopefuls to face questioning from MEPs

Written by Martin Banks on 9 January 2017 in News
News

Five of the six MEPs vying to become the President of Parliament for the second half of its legislature will be quizzed by their colleagues this week ahead of the vote on 17 January.

European parliament

Five of the six MEPs vying to become the President of Parliament for the second half of its legislature will be quizzed by their colleagues | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


Several deputies hope to succeed Martin Schulz in Parliament's top job. The German MEP's decision to return to German domestic politics triggered the election.

Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader, Gianni Pittella, who heads the S&D group and Antonio Tajani, of the EPP group, are among those who have agreed to take part in the Q&A session with the Greens group.

Two other candidates will also take part - Eleonara Forenza, a GUE/NGL member and Helga Stevens, of the ECR group.


RELATED CONTENT


However, a sixth candidate, UK Greens MEP Jean Lambert, will not be questioned by her own group.

Three Italian deputies are in the running for the post, which will be decided in a secret ballot.

On Monday, a source with the Greens group explained why they had decided to organise this week's meetings.

He said, "It is in order to gain a better understanding of the candidates of the other political groups for the presidency. We invited them to give a short presentation and take questions from our group."

The sessions in Parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday are public and all are invited to attend, he said.

The coming contest on 17 January is more open than most previous presidential elections, because whereas in the past the mainstream parties have struck a deal in order to appoint a presidential candidate, the EPP and S&D groups will this time compete directly against each other.

Tajani, a former spokesperson for Silvio Berlusconi, is a clear favourite but, even so, will still need to win backing from a wide range of MEPs, including the ECR and ALDE groups and even more populist parties if he is to win.

The EPP group currently holds 216 of 751 EU Parliament's seats, while the Socialists hold 189 and the Liberal alliance holds just 68.

Tajani previously served as a European Commissioner after being appointed by Berlusconi.

In declaring his candidacy, Pittella has severed a long-standing power-sharing agreement that called for the presidency to pass from the S&D, the second-largest group in Parliament, to the EPP in January 2017.

Verhofstadt, who is also Parliament's main Brexit negotiator, said he offers the only chance to stop the centre-right EPP "taking control of the chamber."

On her hopes, Forenza told this website, "I am a feminist from the south of Europe. This in itself makes a strong political statement and I am acutely aware of the heavy responsibilities this carries," she continued.

"I will work to make the Parliament the centre of a project for a Europe built on the full participation of its citizens in politics.

"Having a fully democratic Europe means radically changing the current set-up in the European Union: a model that is based on neoliberalism, on austerity, on budget constraint, on the sovereign debts and the blackmails. 

"In addition, the lack of recognition of the right to work and the minimum income - particularly in southern Europe - must be reversed. Similarly, an oversight of fundamental rights for women and migrants are all elements which must be changed inside the EU where a third of women have suffered physical or psychological abuse," she continued.

During next week's Strasbourg plenary, Parliament will also fill all other leadership positions, including vice-presidents and committee chairs. The positions are filled using the D'Hondt system, a mathematical formula which aims to distribute seats in the most proportional way.

 

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

Interested in this content?

Sign up to our free daily email bulletins.

 

Share this page

Categories

Related Articles

EU flags against a blue sky Movers and Shakers | 20 February 2017
20 February 2017

 Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.

Scottish flag Scotland seeks a life raft in Brexit's stormy seas
17 February 2017

The unwillingness of the UK government to compromise on Brexit may leave Scotland with no choice but to seek independence, writes Stephen Gethins.

Anthony Gardner The EU must not let the US sideline its institutions or their values
17 February 2017

In reworking its relations with the US, the EU must not let Washington sideline Brussels' institutions or their values, writes Anthony Gardner.

Related Partner Content

Mariann Skar Thought Leader | Eurocare: EU alcohol strategy
27 November 2014

The EU must 'take the lead' in tackling alcohol-related harm, writes Mariann Skar.

Commission Presidential Debate PM+: Europe needs to put aside 'failed policies of past'
9 May 2014

As presidency candidates call for 'new start', very few concrete plans are being put forward on 'Europe's youth', says Patrik Kovács.

Online Crackdown PM+: EU lacking effective response to extremist online propaganda
30 September 2015

Who is controlling the counter-narratives to extremism? This is the question that many EU policymakers want answered, argues Tehmina Kazi.