Race to become new European Parliament president hots up

Written by Martin Banks on 1 December 2016 in News
News

Contest developing into fight between male ‘backroom stitch up’ and female ‘fresh blood’ candidates.

European parliament

According to 'grand coalition' struck between the EPP and S&D groups, presidency should, come January, fall into EPP hands |Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


Gianni Pittella, the leader of the European Parliament's Socialist group, is the latest to throw his hat into the ring in the race to replace Martin Schulz as the assembly’s next President.

Pittella announced he had joined the race to become the institution's next president at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

The Socialists and Democrats group unanimously backed Pittella as their candidate for the presidency.


RELATED CONTENT


The Italian member said he would run on an “anti-austerity agenda.”

Pittella said, “It is an honour to accept this new challenge. My candidacy is for change. With Martin Schulz’s departure from the Parliament presidency the balance among the political families within the EU Institutions has gone. We will never accept a right-wing monopoly controlling the EU institutions. It is not a matter of names but a matter of principles and ideas.

"We want to put an end to the blind austerity and the national selfishness that has degraded the European Union. We want to put forward a vision based on left-wing ideas, principles and strategies as an alternative to those advocated by the right.

"If we want to deal with the challenges and threats facing Europe then we cannot simply defend the status quo. Our strength is in our unity. Our strength is in being a force for genuine change. It is only through this change that we can save Europe."

MEPs will elect the man or woman to succeed Schulz in a secret ballot on 17 January.

According to the so-called 'grand coalition' struck between the EPP and S&D groups, the presidency should, come January, fall into EPP hands. This, however, has angered a number of MEPs, who have spoken out against the "backroom stitch up deals" reached to make important decisions, including who should be President.

Though she is thought unlikely to win, ALDE group's Sylvie Goulard says she will also stand as a candidate in January.

Asked by this website why she believes she is best suited to the post, Goulard insists she is "modest" but that "there needs to be a debate and we must ask ourselves what profile the best candidate for the job should have."

Another declared candidate, Helga Stevens, welcomed his decision and "potentially" the candidacy of ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt.

The ECR group member said, "For around a decade, the next President of the European Parliament has been decided in a backroom by a few men. I welcome the fact that this now looks more like an open contest where MEPs get to decide on who can best bring the Parliament together and move forward at a time when trust and confidence need to be rebuilt.

"Unfortunately, both Pittella and Verhofstadt represent the same culture of backroom dealing that has demeaned this Parliament over the past few years. Fresh blood is needed in the President's chair, not someone who has sought to pre-cook every major decision out of public scrutiny, but someone who believes that in the European Parliament every voice matters.

"I am still the only candidate wanting to involve every one of the parliament's 751 MEPs in how the EU develops in the coming years. These decisions need to be made by all MEPs, representing the vast diversity of Europe and its 500 million citizens, not by a few men from a couple of states.

"I want the EU to succeed by offering real solutions to major challenges that our voters face, but it cannot do that if we elect another member of the backroom stitch-up society as our next President."

Schulz, 60, the President since 2012,will return to German politics, fuelling speculation that he might challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel, who plans to seek a fourth term in elections next year.

Speculation about his return to German politics gained new momentum after Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, was tapped to become the country’s next President.

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

Tags

Categories

Related Articles

Is closer EU defence cooperation really needed?
22 March 2017

With Nato already established some MEPs question the need for a new Brussels-based EU military HQ.

European Parliament building MEPs want all lobbyists to sign transparency register before entering EU Parliament
21 March 2017

MEPs say that all lobbyists should be required to sign the EU transparency register before being allowed to enter the European Parliament.

Related Partner Content

TTIP, US-EU relations PM+: TTIP: A foot in the door in Washington?
19 May 2015

TTIP will allow Brussels greater influence in Washington, argues Craig Willy.

Scales of Justice Between EU and Eurasia: Which future for human rights in Armenia?
2 December 2015

Armenia's abrupt political U-turn, clearly imposed by Moscow, has interrupted a number of promising legislative processes in the field of human rights.

European Aluminium reclycling A real circular economy needs to address the challenge of scrap flow
18 April 2016

Aluminium will play a major role in delivering the European Commission’s circular economy ambitions; therefore we must retain our existing resources in the face of high international demand -...