After Sassoli’s sudden death and a farewell commemoration, the EU Parliament now chose the Italian’s successor – a candidate from Malta.
Brussels/Munich – The surprising death of the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, has shaken EU politics. Sassoli died at the age of 65 in a hospital in Aviano, Italy, where he had been staying for a long time because of a “serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system”. Among other things, the journalist and social democrat campaigned for the rights of refugees and criticized the migration policies of many member states.
Shortly after his death, the European Parliament bid farewell to the late President and elected a successor. The conservative Maltese Roberta Metsola will chair the parliament in the future.
Sassoli’s successor: Christian Democratic Maltese Metsola new president – in the first ballot
Metsola was considered the favorite in the vote and was actually elected the new President of the European Parliament. The MEPs in Strasbourg elected the 43-year-old as their leader in the first ballot with 458 out of 616 valid votes cast.
With the election result, Metsola now bears the title of the youngest President of the European Parliament since the institution was founded and is the third woman to chair it. The doctor of law has been a member of the EU parliament for the Nationalist Party, which belongs to the EPP Group, since 2013. In 2020, the politician took over the post of the first of 14 vice presidents in the European Parliament.
However, Metsola is also controversial among parliamentarians because of her negative attitude towards abortions. She also made a name for herself as an advocate of the rule of law and as a fighter against corruption. Metsola said immediately after her election that she was honored by the responsibility that was entrusted to her.
EU Parliament: Metsola gets support from CSU man – congratulations from EU Council and Commission
Metsola’s candidacy was supported by the Bavarian group leader of the Christian Democrats in the EU Parliament, Manfred Weber (CSU). Weber originally claimed the post himself, but then gave it up. The EPP group leader was also recently in focus for supporting a politician from an EPP member party. Metsola prevailed against applicants from two other factions. The left had sent the Spaniard Sira Rego into the race, the Greens the Swede Alice Bah Kuhnke. The Social Democrats and the Liberals had not put forward their own candidates and supported Metsola. In return, they should, among other things, each provide one more vice president than before, according to parliamentary circles.
Metsola’s election was immediately followed by the first congratulations. “Congratulations to Roberta Metsola on her election as the new President of the European Parliament,” wrote EU Council President Charles Michel on Twitter. The EU Parliament is the “beating heart” of European democracy and he looks forward to working with Metsola.
“As the third woman to head this noble house, your hard work and determination is an inspiration to us all. We will work closely together for the upswing of the EU and a green, digital and bright European future,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a message on Twitter.
Sassoli commemoration in Strasbourg: Italians recognized as “proud Europeans” and praised for their work
At a memorial service for Sassoli, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, praised the Italian as a “proud European”. Sassoli was “totally different” and stood up for “ideals of social justice and solidarity,” said Michel in front of a portrait of Sassoli and a large bouquet of white roses.
French President Emmanuel Macron called Sassoli “a man of rare goodwill” and praised his commitment to “dialogue” with the Balkan and southern Mediterranean countries. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who had canceled her participation because of a corona case in her environment, recalled in a statement Sassoli’s “passion” for Europe and democracy. (bb with material from dpa and AFP)