BREAKING NEWS

There are three main candidates seen as the frontrunners in the race to be European Parliament president

The favourite is Italy’s Antonio Tajani: a former EU commissioner and someone who is close to ex-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

“I was elected here. I had a large majority as First Vice-President of Parliament, ad the most votes, and I have always been in the same party unlike others, so there is no problem with my political party,” Tajani said in an interview with euronews last month.

His centre-left rival is his compatriot Gianni Pittella, who claims that the days of the two parties working hand in hand is over.

They were part of a Grand Coalition over the past two years to steer legislation through parliament.

“The world has changed: we’ve had Brexit, we’ve had Trump’s victory. We need to understand that there are the signs coming from our citizens that push towards a stronger polarisation in politics,” he said last month.

“We want to a European parliament with a clear, civil, correct choice between conservatives and progressives, and we are a fundamental part of the progressive wing”.

And then there is former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, a Liberal MEP.

He has been under fire this week following after a planned pact with Italy’s anti euro party the Five Star Movement collapsed amid pressure from his existing political allies.

Verhofstadt, an veteran EU federalist, says he wanted to undermine the Eurosceptic bloc in the European Parliament.

“Maybe I am a little bit naïve in these questions after more than 40 years of politics, that can happen. And it’s not maybe my first mistake that I have made in my life, in my political life,” he told a Politico event on Wednesday.

“When I see that number of these people are not going to pro-European groups for the moment, at this moment that we are speaking and debating, maybe it was not so a bad thing, it will weaken euroscepticism, weaken populism and weaken nationalism.”