Antonio Tajani of the European People’s Party (EPP, aka Christian Democrats) has been elected as the new President of European Parliament, beating Gianni Pittella, candidate of the centre left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) in the fourth and final ballot.
Tajani has been an MEP and a European Commissioner. He is also a staunch Berlusconi supporter. There was, and still is, concern from my own parliamentary group (S&D) about, among other things, his record of opposing women’s sexual and reproductive rights, his role in the Volkswagen emissions scandal, and his votes against stronger protection to whistleblowers in Europe.
He won thanks to the EPP making a last minute deal with the Liberals, whose leader, Guy Verhofstadt, had had intended to run himself. He also had the support of the Tories’ European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) group. Despite this, voting still went on to a fourth round. Verhofstadt had initially made overtures to the S&D Group, and had the Liberals supported Pittella, he would have won.
In a joint statement, EPP and ALDE said that, despite ideological differences, they “have decided to work closely together and to offer a common platform as a starting point for this pro-European cooperation. We appeal to all other pro-European forces in the House to join this initiative and to add their ideas and their priorities to our agenda of reform.”
So it seems that, seven years after the Conservative-Liberal coalition experiment began in Britain, we now have a similar alliance at European level, albeit with a more pro-European flavour. But they do not have enough votes to carry legislation by themselves and for that will have to negotiate with the Socialist & Democrats Group.
I offer my congratulations to Gianni Pittella, who ran an excellent campaign as the S&D candidate, and who had my support throughout this election.
Note : Tajani has recently been one of the fourteen vice-presidents of the Parliament. He was first elected as an MEP in 1994, later leaving to become spokesman for the then Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, and returning to Parliament in 1999. He was a European Commissioner, responsible for transport and industry between 2008 to 2014.