German Socialist MEP Martin Schulz was elected President of the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week. His election comes at a particularly poignant time for socialism in Europe – both the heads of the European Commission and European Council belong to conservative political parties who are affiliated with the European People’s Party and there are just four left wing governments amongst the EU’s member states.
Schulz, who was nominated by MEPs from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) back in September 2011, has been the group’s president since 2004. He succeeds Jerzy Buzek, who became the first Polish President of the European Parliament in 2009. The new president, who has a comfortable majority of 387 out of the 670 votes cast, is now responsible for presiding over parliamentary debates, chairing plenary sessions and representing the parliament internationally. He will hold the post until the next European elections in July 2014.
British MEPs Nirj Deva (Conservative) and Diana Wallis (Liberal Democrat) also stood against Schulz, gaining 142 and 141 votes respectively. Since her defeat on Tuesday, Diana Wallis has announced that she is to resign after representing Yorkshire and the Humber for the past twelve years. When an MEP steps down, their seat is handed to the candidate who came second on the party list behind them. Diana Wallis’s constituents can now look forward to being represented by her husband, Stewart Arnold.