Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January, 2022 at 11:58 am by Andre Camilleri
PN MEP Roberta Metsola has become the first Maltese person to hold the post of European Parliament President after achieving an overwhelming majority in an election held between MEPs in Strasbourg on Monday.
She achieved a total of 458 votes from 616 valid votes – far above the absolutely majority of 309 which was required. It is the equivalent of 74.3% of the votes cast.
Alice Bah Kuhnke (from the Greens/EFA) received 101 votes, while Sira Rego (from The Left) received 57 votes.
Kosma Zlotowski (from the ECR) withdrew his candidacy at the last minute.
The news was greeted with raptorous applause, as MEPs gave Metsola a standing ovation – and some even sang her Happy Birthday, with today being her birthday – as she took the President’s chair in the Parliament.
Metsola was elected to the European Parliament in 2013 and has been there ever since. She became the first Vice-President of the European Parliament to come from Malta in November 2020. She comes from the EU Parliament’s largest political group, the European People’s Party.
Metsola, in her role as First VicePresident, had taken over the duties of the President of the European Parliament earlier this month after David Sassoli, who was the sitting President, tragically passed away in Italy while in hospital.
If elected, she will be the first Maltese to hold such a high post. The last female EU Parliament President was back in 2002. Only two women have held the post in the past, out of the 29 former Presidents of this institution.
The President is elected by an absolute majority of valid votes, cast by secret vote, i.e. 50% plus one. Due to the pandemic, the vote will be held remotely.
Four MEPs have announced their candidacy: Roberta Metsola (from the EPP), Alice Bah Kuhnke (from the Greens/EFA), Kosma Zlotowski (from the ECR) and Sira Rego (from The Left).
The candidates will make a short presentation this morning, at 9am, immediately before the first voting round, which will take place between 9.30am and 10.15am, with the result announced at 11am.
“If the first round does not deliver a winner, the same or other candidates can be nominated for a second and a third round, under the same conditions. If no one is elected at the third round, the two candidates with the most votes in this round proceed to a fourth and final vote, in which the candidate receiving the most votes wins,” a statement by the EU Parliament read.
The newly-elected President may then deliver an opening address before presiding over the election of the remaining members of Parliament’s Bureau (Tuesday and Wednesday). Appointments to parliamentary committees for the rest of this legislative term will also be confirmed during the upcoming plenary session, possibly on Wednesday.
The duties of the President include that he or she will direct all the activities of Parliament and its bodies in accordance with rules and shall enjoy all powers that are necessary to preside over the proceedings of Parliament and to ensure that they are properly conducted. In addition, the duties of the President shall also be to open, suspend and close sittings; to rule on the admissibility of amendments and other texts put to the vote, as well as on the admissibility of parliamentary questions; to ensure observance of these Rules; to maintain order; to call upon speakers; to close debates; to put matters to the vote and to announce the results of votes; as well as to refer to committees any communications that concern them.
Parliament shall be represented in international relations, on ceremonial occasions and in administrative, legal and financial matters by the President, who may delegate these powers.
The President is also responsible for the security and the inviolability of the premises of the European Parliament.
Speaking with this newsroom last December, Metsola said: “In the next years, people will look to our Parliament for leadership as some continue to test the limits of our democracy. When citizens look to us to defend European judges, to preserve media freedom, to close the gender pay gap, to fix holes in our social fabric, to protect minorities, to lead on climate change, to fight for equality, to end racism, push forward trade and deliver digital transformation, to create new jobs, to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used to pay for antidemocratic ideals – to stand up for Europe: we cannot be found wanting.”
“But, if we are to raise Europe to the levels promised, we now need to forge something stronger, that motivates a younger, more sceptical audience. The European Parliament must be the Institution that holds others to account. That has the authority it needs to investigate. To scrutinise. To legislate with a right of initiative. We have to keep pushing for this. Ours must be a Parliament that stands up, that speaks in a loud and powerful voice. Parliament is central to the idea of a Europe that is closer, more autonomous, and more resilient. We must now ensure that the Conference on the Future of Europe has the support it needs to deliver concrete outcomes.”