The European parliament has a new president, the former Polish prime minister Jerzy Buzek.
The centre-right politican has been an MEP since 2004, shortly after Poland joined the EU. He has won an overwhelming absolute majority of 555 votes out of 713 cast, well over the threshold he needed. It is the first time the post has been held by one of the new EU members from the former Soviet bloc. “Today is the 14th of July, the French national holiday,” he said. “220 years since the Revolution. The revolutionary message consisted of three words : freedom, equality and fraternity. All of these three words ring out today in the European Union.” He will not, however, serve his full term. A Socialist will replace him halfway through as Europe’s biggest parties continue with their agreement to share the presidency. Outgoing president Hans Gert Pöttering was presented with a statue of the patron saint of miners, carved out of coal. Buzek comes from the mining centre of Silesia.