European Parliament elects new president, with a conservative as favorite

The European Parliament elects its new president on Tuesday, in a dispute that has Maltese conservative lawmaker Roberta Metsola as the outspoken favorite, despite her outspoken opposition to abortion.

It is about choosing the successor of the Italian David Sassoli, who died on January 11 and whose term ended this week.

Currently vice-president of Parliament, Metsola has the support of the largest political bloc in Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP, right), and is therefore considered the most likely winner.

In this election, Metsola has two female opponents: the Spanish Sira Rego (from the Left bloc), and the Swedish Alice Bah Kuhnke (supported by the Greens).

The Pole Kosma Zlotowski (ECR, eurosceptic right) had launched his candidacy but withdrew it at the last minute.

MEP since 2013 and vice president of Parliament since 2020, Metsola, who turns 43 this Tuesday, had recently gained visibility by temporarily replacing Sassoli, who was away from the chamber due to illness for several weeks.

But this mother of 4 children has also drawn criticism from some of her peers, in particular for her anti-abortion conviction, a widely held opinion in Malta, the last country in the European Union (EU) where abortion remains completely illegal.

Aware of the reservations he has raised on this issue, Metsola assured that in the event of elections, his “duty will be to represent the position of Parliament”, including on sexual and reproductive rights.

– Agreements and disagreements –

According to a tradition, there has almost always been an alternation between the left and the right for the mid-term elections to the European Parliament.

Metsola was initially to benefit from the agreement reached between the three main political forces EPP, S&D (social democrats) and Renew Europe (centrists and liberals).

These groups had agreed in 2019 to line up behind the candidacy of the Social Democrat Sassoli, and for an EPP candidate to take office for the second half of the legislature.

But given their recent electoral successes, particularly in Germany, the Social Democrats questioned that one.

The leader of the group of Social Democrats, the Spaniard Iratxe GarcĂ­a, pointed out that she wanted to defend a candidate “according to priorities and values”.

The three groups finally reached a new agreement on Monday, around a political declaration that mentions several priorities, including the fight against violence against women and for gender equality.

The document also mentions European taxation and the place of implementation of a minimum wage directive.

The agreement also allocates 5 parliamentary deputy seats to the group of Social Democrats, as well as certain committee chairs.

If elected, Metsola will be the third woman to preside over the assembly of 705 deputies, after the French Simone Veil (1979-1982) and Nicole Fontaine (1999-2002).

To be elected, a candidate must obtain an absolute majority of the votes cast by secret ballot. If after three votes the absolute majority is not obtained, a fourth round is organized with the two candidates who have obtained the most votes in the previous round.

apz / ahg / d

Leave a Comment