Italian socialist wins European Parliament presidency
The Democratic Party parliamentarian replaces fellow Italian, right-of-centre president Antonio Tajani.
The former journalist won 345 votes in the second round of voting among MEPs, ahead of the right-wing Jan Zahradil, who won 160 votes, and Green Ska Keller, with 119.
The European Council, which represents member governments, recommended a socialist be given the role after days of horse-trading. The socialist candidate for president of the European Commission was defeated.
Sassoli takes the post for 2½ years under a deal that gives the centre-right EPP bloc the presidency for the second half of the parliamentary term.
Tajani is an ally of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi from the right-wing EPP group.
EU leaders suggested a president be chosen from the former communist Eastern Bloc, because of a lack of representation in the top jobs. But the 63-year-old Sassoli is the seventh Italian parliament president.
The former broadcaster co-wrote a book with Francesco Saverio Romano about the drama of cabinet meetings during the 1978 kidnap and murder of then prime minister Aldo Moro by leftist militants.
“We’re making a start to a parliamentary term where events place a great responsibility on our shoulders,” the sober intellectual, who will not be an ally to the populist coalition currently running Italy, said in his acceptance speech.
“We need to return to the spirit of the founding fathers: those who put aside the hostility of warfare and the damage caused by nationalism in order to build up a project that can bring together peace, democracy, the rule of law, development, and equality,” the father-of-two told MEPs.
“Too many people in recent months have been stressing the way this project has been in decline – stressing conflict, which we thought was just a sorry memory in our past. But our citizens have shown that they still believe in this wonderful project; the only one that is any position to rise to global challenges we face.
“We need to be strong enough to re-launch our process of integration, changing our union and enabling it to come up to a stronger response to the needs of our citizens.”
David Sassoli. Picture credit: Wikimedia