Italian socialist David-Maria Sassoli was elected to replace European parliament President Antonio Tajani, another Italian politician, on Wednesday.
Sassoli received 345 votes in the second round of voting, winning ahead of right-wing Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, Green German candidate Ska Keller, and far-left Spanish candidate Sira Rego.
Sassoli will lead the post for two and a half years after which it will go to Europe’s main centre-right party, the EPP.
Who is David-Maria Sassoli?
Born in Florence in 1956, the former journalist started his career with small Italian newspapers eventually working with the French editorial staff of Italian national newspaper Il Giorno.
He began working at Italy’s national public broadcaster Rai in 1992 and would serve as deputy director and presenter of the organisation's flagship program TG1.
He left journalism for politics in 2009 at the age of 52 with Italy’s Democratic Party, a centre-left political party formed in 2007. The EU high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, is a member of the same Italian political party.
Sassoli became the president of the Democratic party delegation to the European Parliament in 2009.
In 2013, he ran in Italian municipal elections to be Mayor of Rome but came second in the election to Ignazio Marino who was mayor of the Italian capital from 2013 to 2015.
After he was elected president of European Parliament, Sassoli insisted that “I’m not the council’s man, I’m the parliament’s man”.
He said the EU needed to “reduce the distance” between the institutions and citizens of Europe.
In his acceptance speech on Wednesday, Sassoli talked about the European project as one of peace and democracy. He said European citizens showed that they still believed in the project and talked about being proud of European diversity.
He repeated Emmanuel Macron’s aphorism on climate change, stating that there is no planet B.
Sassoli becomes president of the EU parliament after previously serving as the parliament’s Vice President responsible for Mediterranean budget and policy.
He is a member of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and according to VoteWatch has voted 98% in line with his political party.