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Roberta Metsola elected European Parliament president

Roberta Metsola elected European Parliament president

Maltese center-right MEP wins top job in first round of voting.

Maltese center-right MEP wins top job in first round of voting.

Maltese center-right MEP Roberta Metsola was elected president of the European Parliament on Tuesday — a moment marking a generational and geographic shift within EU leadership.

Metsola won 458 votes in the first round of balloting, easily capturing the needed majority after the Parliament’s major groups agreed ahead of time to back the 43-year-old politician. 

“With humbleness, I feel honored by this responsibility with which you are entrusting me,” Metsola told MEPs in her inaugural speech from the president’s seat. “I promise you that I will work and do my utmost to work on behalf of this Parliament and for the benefit of all EU citizens.”

he was propelled to victory following a last-minute, power-sharing deal between the three largest groups in the Parliament — the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and the liberal Renew Europe.

Metsola’s victory illustrates the changing dynamics both within the Parliament and among the EU’s leadership. 

At 43, she is the youngest person to be Parliament president. She is younger than her fellow EU presidents — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is 63 and European Council President Charles Michel is 46. 

In addition, electing a politician from Malta, the EU’s smallest country, would have been unthinkable years ago. Parliament presidents have historically come from large EU countries like Germany or France, or from a founding member like The Netherlands.

“I am a woman from a small island in the middle of Europe’s southern sea,” Metsola told MEPs during a speech prior to her election. “I know what it means to be the underdog, I know what it means to be pigeon-holed.”

While Metsola’s victory was essentially prebaked following the power-sharing deal, she did face two other candidates. Swedish Green MEP Alice Bah Kuhnke received 101 votes, while The Left’s Sira Rego of Spain secured 57 votes. A fourth proposed candidate, Polish MEP Kosma Złotowski from the European Conservatives and Reformists, withdrew ahead of the vote. 

Later on Tuesday, the Parliament also elected its slate of 14 vice-presidents. The cast includes some old faces, like German MEP Rainer Wieland and his Polish colleague Ewa Kopacz, both from the EPP group, as well as some newcomers, like MEPs Pina Picierno of Italy and Evelyn Regner of Austria, both from the S&D group. 

Hungarian MEP Lívia Járóka — a member of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, which is accused of facilitating democratic backsliding in Hungary — failed to get the needed majority during the first round of voting and withdrew herself from the race.

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