Roberta Metsola elected European Parliament president

Roberta Metsola gets an absolute majority of votes on the first round and is elected European Parliament president • She is first woman since 1999 to occupy role of EP president

MEPs applaud as Roberta Metsola is declared winner in the vote to become the European Parliament's next president
MEPs applaud as Roberta Metsola is declared winner in the vote to become the European Parliament's next president
Roberta Metsola elected President of the European Parliament

Roberta Metsola has been elected president of the European Parliament obtaining the support of an absolute majority of MEPs on the first round.

The Maltese MEP received 74% of valid votes cast in the hemicycle in Strasbourg. 

In her acceptance speech, Metsola pledged to uphold the values of openness, human rights, solidarity and rule of law the European Union champions. She spoke of the need to extend the Schengen area but at the same time emphasised security within the EU and at its borders.

Metsola spoke of the Russian threat to Ukraine and the need to focus on the Balkan states. She also highlighted the need for the reunification of Cyprus.

Metsola spoke in Maltese, her mother tongue and English but also paid tribute to her predecessor David Sassoli in Italian and put in a few paragraphs of French.

The 42-year-old mother of four is the first Maltese to occupy one of the highest institutional posts in the EU. She is the first woman to occupy the role of EP president since 1999.

Roberta Metsola the moment she learns of her victory
Roberta Metsola the moment she learns of her victory
11:51 This live blog will end here. But keep following developments on this news portal with updates, analysis and more. Kurt Sansone
11:47 Metsola is shortly expected to give a press conference. Kurt Sansone
11:46 Congratulations pour in:
Robert Abela: ‘I look forward to working together on mutual priorities.’
Bernard Grech: ‘We are incredibly proud to call you one of our own.’
George Vella: ‘I am sure she will succeed in fulfilling the onerous duties and responsibilities that this position entails. This is an important achievement for the country, which time and time again proved that if united, our size and geography pose no obstacle to vision and commitment.’
Kurt Sansone
11:41 Maltese President George Vella, Prime Minister Robert Abela, Opposition leader Bernard Grech have all congratulated Metsola for her success. Kurt Sansone
11:39 QUICK RECAP: Roberta Metsola has been elected president of the European Parliament with 74% of the votes. She is the first Maltese to occupy one of the highest institutional roles in the EU. Her success comes on her birthday, so here goes: 'Happy birthday, dear president.' Kurt Sansone
11:28 'And now let's get down to work,' she tells MEPs, giving the floor to the heads of the European political groupings. Kurt Sansone
11:27 Metsola concludes her speech by telling MEPs 'Europe is back', and concludes with 'Vive l'Europe'. Kurt Sansone
11:26 She name drops Simone Weil, a French political activist who was the first woman president of the EP and was a key figure in France for the introduction of abortion rights. Kurt Sansone
11:24 She speaks about her election as the first woman since 1999 to head the EP and calls for women's rights to be protected. Kurt Sansone
11:22 Metsola says the EU must forge something new to reach out to a more sceptical audience. Kurt Sansone
11:22 Metsola spells out a message to the families of murdered journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak: 'Your fight for justice is also ours.' Kurt Sansone
11:21 This House will never accept those who threaten the rights of women and LGBTIQ, or those who use hybrid attacks against the security of this union. Kurt Sansone
11:20 Metsola speaks of the divide in Cyprus. 'We can never be truly whole until Cyprus remains split,' she says. Kurt Sansone
11:20 Metsola says the EU must protect its values of openness and human rights. Kurt Sansone
11:19 She says Europe must resist attempts and pressure to put up borders that threaten the Schengen space. 'The world around us is less safe than it was a decade ago,' she says, mentioning the Russian threat of an invasion in Ukraine and the migrant border crisis instigated by Belarus last year. Kurt Sansone
11:17 Metsola speaks of a Europe that needs to gain a competitive edge, while steering action on climate change. Kurt Sansone
11:17 She urges MEPs to 'burst through the Brussels and Strasbourg bubble' to reach out to citizens. Kurt Sansone
11:16 Metsola says she will strive to make the EU matter to every citizen. She extols the values of solidarity and human rights. Metsola speaks of equality of opportunity, which she says 'is not making everyone the same'. Kurt Sansone
11:13 Metsola shifts to Italian for a tribute to her predecessor, Italian David Sassoli, who died last week. Kurt Sansone
11:12 She kicks off in Maltese: 'Grazzi. Grazzi ħafna. Se naħdem bl-enerġija kollha għall-ġid taċ-ċittadini Ewropej' Kurt Sansone
11:11 Metsola addresses MEPs as president. Kurt Sansone
11:08 With 74% of the vote, Metsola has obtained an absolute majority on the first round and is elected European Parliament president. Kurt Sansone
11:07 First round voting results
Roberta Metsola (EPP) 458 votes
Alice Kuhnke (Greens) 101 votes
Sira Rego (The Left) 57 votes
Kurt Sansone
11:00 Our reporter Nicole Meilak in Strasbourg tells us that while these elections are known for surprises, many are expecting a straightforward result with an absolute majority for Roberta Metsola on the first round. Kurt Sansone
10:57 The results are going to be announced at 11am by the vice president. Kurt Sansone
10:57 MEPs are being called back to the hemicycle for the announcement of the first round voting results. Kurt Sansone
10:22 Voting is over. The first results are expected at 11am. Kurt Sansone
10:17 Metsola came under fire from some MEPs on her anti-abortion stand. As an MEP, she has repeatedly voted against motions on women’s healthcare and sexual rights that included references to abortion. Malta remains the only EU country to have a complete ban on abortion. In the run-up to the EP presidency election, Metsola said she will reflect the will of the majority of the parliament irrespective of her personal beliefs. Kurt Sansone
10:13 Of note is the agreement reached late yesterday on the eve of the election between the Socialists and Democrats, the EPP and Renew Europe (the liberals). In a tweet, the S&D said it reached a deal to ensure ‘a stable working majority until 2024 elections’. The deal effectively secures the support of the S&D for Metsola. In return, the socialists secured ‘strong institutional representation’ for S&D MEPs. The agreement also includes a working document that includes the S&Ds priorities: rule of law, women’s rights, social dimension and fiscal rules. Kurt Sansone
10:07 We are informed that the candidate for the ECR (conservatives), Kosma Zlotowski dropped out from the race this morning. This leaves Metsola (EPP), Alice Kuhnke (Greens) and Sira Rego (The Left) competing for the presidency. Kurt Sansone
10:03 Our reporter Nicole Meilak tells us that not much is happening inside the hemicycle. MEPs are now voting for their president in their respective offices or liaison units in their home member state. Kurt Sansone
09:48 Just before voting got underway, the candidates gave short speeches. Metsola told MEPs she will prioritise diversity and tolerance if elected president. She also pledged not to shy away from taking difficult decisions. Kurt Sansone
09:45 Nicole tells us that the weather in Strasbourg is 'cold and grey'. Kurt Sansone
09:44 Voting in the hemicycle is currently underway. It ends at 10:15am with the first results expected at 11am. Kurt Sansone
09:43 Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola is one of the candidates gunning for the post. Her chances of getting elected appear very good. If she does make it, Metsola would be the first Maltese to occupy one of the highest roles in European institutions. Kurt Sansone
09:42 Our journalist Nicole Meilak is in Strasbourg for the European Parliament's election of its president. Kurt Sansone
09:41 Good morning. Kurt Sansone

Who were the candidates?

Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola today faced competition from three other candidates – the Greens candidate Alice Bah Kuhnke, the Left’s Sira Rego, and ECR’s Kosma Zlotowski.

Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT), Alice Kuhnke (Greens/EFA, SE), and Sira Rego (The Left, ES) gave short presentations on Tuesday at 9am, immediately before the first voting round. The result was announced at 11am. Kosma Złotowski (ECR, PL) withdrew his candidacy just before the vote.

The S&D, the second-largest group, did not have a candidate. In a deal brokered on the eve of the vote between the S&D, the EPP and Renew, the S&D secured key posts for its MEPs and made sure its issues will be on the agenda for the next two years. The deal ensured the S&Ds support for Metsola.

The European Left proposed a feminist candidate which they insisted marked a break from ‘system candidates’. GUE Co-president Manon Aubry added that Rego was a feminist candidate “marking a clear break from the system candidates 40 years on from the presidency of Simone Veil... now we have a candidate who is in favour of abortion.”

The other candidate was former Swedish minister Alice Bah Kuhnke for the Greens.

Election procedure

The president is elected to the office for a renewable period of two and a half years.

During each legislative term, a first election is normally held in July, immediately after the election of a new Parliament. A second mid-term election is held two and a half years later, in January.

Usually, at the sitting designated to elect the President for the mid-term election, the procedure is chaired by the outgoing President, or by one of the outgoing Vice-Presidents in order of precedence. But this year’s election is suis generis, as a sitting President has never died in the middle of their term.

The situation becomes all the more unclear as the First Vice and interim President, which is Roberta Metsola, is also contesting the election.

The president is elected by secret ballot from a list of nominees proposed by the different political groups.

The candidates are put forward before each round of the ballot, of which there can only be four rounds. Once the candidates are put forward, the person chairing the plenary announces the nominees.

To secure the presidency, a candidate must win an absolute majority of the votes cast, that is 50%+1. This can be less than the absolute majority of all MEPs because abstentions and spoilt or blank votes are not counted.

There can be any number of candidates during the first three rounds of voting, and no candidates are eliminated as the rounds go on. But since there can only be four rounds of voting, the fourth and final ballot is confined to the two candidates who obtained the highest number of votes in the third round. The candidate with the largest number of votes wins the presidency.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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