Next week, MEPs will vote on who will replace Germany’s Martin Schulz as the head of the European Parliament.
The role is largely ceremonial and has traditionally been shared between the centre right and the Socialist groups over the past years.
Critics say this so-called grand coalition has turned the parliament into a rubber stamp body, with very little in the way real debate.
The Liberal group this week tried to break their traditional stranglehold on the parliament by aiming for a tie up with Italy’s Five Star Movement.“Let me make it clear today: looking ahead to next Tuesday, let me make it clear that anyone who wants to break that pact between pro-European forces, well those groups will be held responsible to allowing eurosceptics and radicals to influence decisions in this house,” said Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP in the European Parliament.
But the Socialists say – in public at least – that there will be no grand stitch up this time around;
“I don’t agree with any secret agreement that Manfred Weber is showing to the public, the European Parliament is a democratic institution, we have election and Socialists & Democrats have their own candidate, it’s Gianni Pittella, and we are united supporting him in this candidacy,” Tanja Fajon, a Slovenian MEP, told euronews.
News of Guy Verhofstadt’s overtures towards Beppe Grillo’s anti euro party emerged over the weekend.
It left Brussels in shock at the possible alliance between an arch EU federalist and a party branded as populist by Verhofstadt himself.
But Liberal MEPs refused to back the deal, forcing
another U turn from the former Belgian PM.