Sunday

14th Aug 2022

Pittella bid for EP chief threatens grand coalition

  • Gianni Pittella could go down in parliament's history as the man who ended the grand coalition between socialists and centre-right EPP.

The leader of the European Parliament's socialist (S&D) group, Gianni Pittella, has joined the race to become the institution's next president.

The Italian politician announced his bid at a press conference on Wednesday (30 November), saying: "My candidacy is for change."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“We want to put an end to the blind austerity and the national selfishness that has degraded the EU. We want to put forward a vision based on left-wing ideas, principles and strategies as an alternative to those advocated by the right."

His bid for presidency could already end a long-standing pact between the socialists and centre-right EPP.

Part of their deal was to divide the presidency post among the two for half the term each.

An EPP candidate was supposed to take over the post from German social democrat Martin Schulz in January.

EPP leader Manfred Weber warned last week that a failure by the parliament's pro-EU parties to unite behind a joint nominee could end with turmoil, as it would strengthen so-called populists and make it more difficult to pass legislation.

But according to sources, the socialists have realised their cosy relationship with the EPP was damaging their political profile. The presidency post is seen as crucial to get across the group's messages.

It remains to be seen whether the parliament's progressive caucus will endorse Pittella.

More candidates coming

Greens and left-wing Gue/NGL told this website they weren't aware that he was running and would have to discuss internally before deciding if he was fit for the job.

Gue/NGL, however, has already presented a wish list.

President Gabriele Zimmer told this website she hoped to see changes to a report on the parliament's rules of procedures to stop the socialists and EPP joining together to marginalise the parliament's smaller groups.

The liberals, meanwhile, are hopeful their leader Guy Verhofstadt could turn out to be a compromise candidate. They endorsed the former prime minister of Belgium as their nominee on Tuesday, but he has yet to formally announce his bid.

The EPP will elect its candidate on 13 December.

Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, a senior EPP MEP, told journalists on Wednesday that she was personally "open-minded" about the choice of the next president, as long as it was a good one.

"Martin Schulz did a lot to promote the image of the European Parliament externally, but he neglected the internal functioning of this house," the French MEP said.

"His successor must be a skilled negotiator, a strategist who can rally MEPs across the different groups."

Helga Stevens, a Belgian MEP who is running on behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, said it appeared that the choice of president could be a "genuine election" for the first time in a decade.

"Instead of the usual backroom deal it seems that a number of candidates will put their names forward and, after a robust debate, MEPs will get to decide themselves who has the best ambition, character and priorities to take this parliament forward," she wrote in an opinion article for this website.

MEPs will pick their next president in secret ballots on 17 January next year.

EUobserved

Schulz: the end of a one-man parliament

Martin Schulz has been widely credited for raising the profile of the European Parliament during his terms at its helm. But he didn't do much to raise transparency and political accountability of the EU institutions.

Ethics drive at EU parliament hits a wall

Plans to increase transparency at the European Parliament have been postponed, in a move likely to result in weaker proposals when it goes to a vote.

Socialists dismiss EU parliament unity plea

Socialist leader Gianni Pittella rejects a call for continued cooperation from his centre-right counterpart, in a dispute that threatens the balance of power in the house.

Centre-right reveals 2014 EU parliament deal

Manfred Weber, leader of the centre-right EPP group, says socialist and liberal leaders have to stick to their pledges and let EPP's Antonio Tajani become parliament president.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us