Update 20/11/2021: Roberta Metsola nominated as the EPP candidate for the role of the European Parliament President
Less than a week ago, the EPP group officially announced Roberta Metsola as a candidate for the position of European Parliament President. The MEP received support from her party, winning a majority vote with over 64%. Two other candidates, Ester de Lange gained 25% of the votes, and Othmar Karas received the support of only 10% of the MEPs.
After the vote, Manfred Weber, the chairman of the EPP Group, commented:
Manfred Weber, November 2021
“Roberta Metsola is a well-respected, extremely dedicated and competent Member of this Parliament who has shown her leadership on many occasions since joining the European Parliament in 2013. Her expertise, experience as Group Coordinator and Parliament’s Vice-President, and her ability to bring MEPs from different parties and countries together will be an asset for our institution, at a time when this is needed more than ever. She will be the face of a strong, modern and more visible Parliament that will make us proud. And, yes, we also think it is high time that the next President of the European Parliament is a woman!”
The EPP Group urged the S&D group to honour the agreement of 2019 and refrain from nominating a candidate from their own group. However, recent disagreements between the two political groups might prompt the S&D group to propose David Sassoli as their candidate for the second half of the parliamentary term.
Why is the role of the European Parliament President important?
The Members of the European Parliament elect the European Parliament President by reaching an absolute majority in a secret ballot vote. The role of the European Parliament President is similar to a speaker in a national parliament to the extent that it entails overseeing the Parliament’s work and chairing the plenary debates. Additionally, the EP President represents the position of the European Parliament to external bodies. To that end, the President outlines the Parliament’s position before European Council meetings. Moreover, the President of the European Parliament co-signs legislative documents adopted through the Ordinary Legislative Procedure (OLS) together with the President of the Council and declares the adoption of the EU budget.
Former European Parliament Presidents played an important role in European politics. For example, Martin Schulz, the EP President from 2012 till 2017, remains very influential. In 2017 he became the leader of the Social Democratic Party in Germany and ran as a candidate for German Chancellorship. With over 670k Twitter followers, Shulz continues to be a relevant political actor. (🔗 See our most influential policymaker dashboard)
What do we know about the candidates?
David Maria Sassoli
Many expect David Maria Sassoli, the current President of the European Parliament, to run for his second term. The initial agreement made by the S&D Party and the European People’s Party, which aimed for S&D to support a conservative candidate to take over in the second term, seems less likely to take place. The proposed EPP candidate, Manfred Weber, opted out of the EP Presidency run. Instead, he assumed a dual role as the leader of the EPP and the president of the EPP’s EU-wide umbrella organization. Weber’s decision caused conflict between S&D members, who believe that the EPP has breached the deal, and the EPP members, who want to secure a president belonging to their party.
While David Maria Sassoli has been an MEP since 2009, we know very little about his political profile. As a relatively discrete man and as the incumbent President of the European Parliament, Sassoli does not like to communicate through online platforms. This makes it difficult to identify his political interests and sentiments. In the past month, he tweeted only six times about events in Italy and did not retweet any posts.
Roberta Metsola has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2013. She is one of the first Maltese women elected as an MEP. Currently, she is the First Vice President of the European Parliament. Historically, the former European Parliament Presidents often came from Germany, France or other founding countries. Therefore, it might come as a surprise to some that the EPP opted for Roberta Metsola. Some might see a candidate with a Maltese background as a disadvantage due to a low number of Maltese MEPs.
Roberta Metsola’s use of Twitter to express her political opinion is much more active than Sassoli’s. With 31 tweets and 123 retweets per month, she remains vocal about her activities and political interests. In the past weeks, she posted about the events in the European Parliament. She also shared her view on strategic lawsuits aimed at intimidating journalists. Moreover, she commented on the political situation in Belarus.
Who has the most support on social media?
During the 2021 German Bundestag elections, the Policy-Insider.AI team paid close attention to the support of the Chancellor candidates on Twitter. This time we take to Twitter to look at the support for the EP President candidates. The current president Sassoli is clearly the most popular. He is followed by over 167k Twitter users. Roberta Metsola currently has over 22k followers. Therefore, there is a large gap in popularity between the two candidates.
These charts are automatically updated and interactive. For matters of comparability, the spread of the vertical axis is 5.000 twitter followers.
This article was originally published in English. Translations have been generated automatically and may be incorrect.
Image rights: Plenary session – Resumption of session and order of business © European Union 2021 – Source : EP