Hans-Gert Poettering has been elected president of the European Parliament. He won a clear majority of the votes cast in the 785-member assembly, defeating three other contenders. Under a deal struck between the legislative body’s two biggest groups, the German conservative takes over from Spanish socialist Josep Borrell, with a two and a half year mandate.
The veteran MEP with a background in law is a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Poettering, a Christian Democrat, said: “I would like to make my own contribution towards a democratic European Union which is strong and capable of acting in Europe and the world.”
Poettering vowed to help increase public awareness of the EU assembly and increase its powers through ratification of the embattled common constitution for the bloc. To take up the new post, he stood down last week after seven years as chairman of the parliament’s centre-right European People’s Party, the largest group.
The runner-up in today’s vote was the current co-president of the Greens, Italian Monica Frassoni, who garnered 145 votes to Poettering’s 450, in a secret ballot. Danish eurosceptic Jens-Peter Bonde also ran, as well as French communist Francis Wurtz. They lead the Independence/Democracy Group and the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, respectively. The head of the assembly’s liberal group said most of its members had supported Poettering.