Race to become next president of #EuropeanParliament heats up

verhofstadtThe S&D Group has issued a press release denying press rumours concerning “an unrealistic under-the-table deal among the presidents of the S&D Group, Gianni Pittella, and the ALDE Group, Guy Verhofstadt”.

A spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats president, Jan Bernas, excluded the possibility of this scenario or any other deals with other groups. The S&D group will not be “paving the way to the presidency of the European Parliament being taken by the leader of the Liberals”. Bernas underlined that President Pittella has received unanimous support from the whole of the group to run until the very end of the electoral process, and to become the next president of the European Parliament.

The announcement appears to be, to use the words of Bernas, “unrealistic”; in order to secure the role, Pittella will need the support of other political groups. The S&D group has 190 MEPs compared to the EPP’s 219 MEPs.

Pittella has argued that the Parliament should back a non-EPP candidate, since the European Commission president and European Council president are both former EPP prime ministers and remain affiliated to that group. The EPP’s candidate, Antonio Tajani, a former European commissioner, is not popular in some quarters – even within his own group, but nevertheless beat very many able candidates from the EPP group including Alain Lamassoure and Mairead McGuinness.

ALDE trail the S&D group by 122 MEPs; while no one doubts Guy Verhofstadt’s ambition, bridging this gap would be impossible. Even assuming the backing of the Nordic Green Left and the Greens, this would only add an additional 102 votes. The other groups (ECR – Conservative and Reformists), EFDD – Freedom and Direct Democracy, includes UKIP, and NI – Non-attached members) do not share Verhofstadt’s enthusiasm for a federal and closer European Union.



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