22:50 GMT30 May 2020
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    Members of the European Parliament are set to elect its new president by secret ballot, January 17, following the collapse of an agreement between the two dominant parties to share the presidency between them on a rotating basis.

    Under a long-standing agreement — apparently renewed after the last parliamentary elections, 2014 — the European People's Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) would share the presidency of the five-year parliament. That has been the case — bar one parliament — since 1979.

    ​Martin Schulz announced, November 2016, he would stand down and it was assumed the EPP would nominate its own candidate. However, the S&D leader Gianni Pittella announced he would stand for election, causing a row between the two main parties. The EPP has nominated Antonio Tajani, a former Commissioner, who — as contender for the largest bloc in the parliament — is the frontrunner.

    ​The Liberals and Democrats leader, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, is also standing, although his chances were dealt a blow over the botched potential tie-up with the Italian Five Star Movement, led by Beppe Grillo.

    Other candidates announced are: Helga Stevens, MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists Group; Laurenţiu Rebega, MEP, Europe of Nations and Freedom Group; Eleonora Forenza, European United Left-Nordic Green Left Group; and Jean Lambert, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.

    Four Rounds?

    The election starts, January 17, at 09:00 CET and is done using a secret ballot. MEPs mark their preferred candidate on a ballot paper and place the vote in a ballot box, overseen by eight tellers chosen from among MEPs.

    Soldiers of a Eurocorps detachment carry the European Union flag to mark the inaugural European Parliament session in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France (file)
    © AFP 2020 / PATRICK HERTZOG
    Soldiers of a Eurocorps detachment carry the European Union flag to mark the inaugural European Parliament session in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France (file)

    A candidate getting an absolute majority of the votes cast (50% + 1) is elected.

    If there is no winner after the first ballot, the same candidates or new candidates can be nominated for a second round of voting under the same conditions.  This can be repeated a third time if necessary.

    If no one is elected at the third ballot, the two highest scoring candidates go to a fourth ballot, where the winner is decided by simple majority. If there is a tie, the older candidate is declared the winner.

    If the EPP's Tajani wins, the EPP would have the presidency of all three institutions, the parliament, the Commission (Jean-Claude Juncker) and the Council (Donald Tusk). That — in turn — could lead to a shake-up at the top level of EU jobs as the EU struggles to deal with the migrant crisis, troubles in the Eurozone, rising populism and Brexit.

    Related:

    Former Belgian PM Verhofstadt Announces European Parliament Presidency Bid
    Berlusconi's Ally Tajani Most Likely to Head European Parliament After Schulz
    Brexit to Be ‘Disaster’ for UK, Ireland – European Parliament Negotiator
    European Politicians Call for End to 'Stitch-Up' of Parliament
    European Parliament in Last-Ditch Horse Trading Over 'Backroom' Presidency Post
    Tags:
    European countries, presidency, election, European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, Gianni Pitella, Guy Verhofstadt, Martin Schulz, Europe, Strasbourg, Brussels
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