Sassoli is new president of European Parliament - GulfToday

Sassoli is new president of European Parliament

 David-Maria Sassoli

David-Maria Sassoli reacts after being elected new president of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Vincent Kessler / Reuters

The European Parliament filling the final top EU job on Wednesday elected an Italian social democrat as its new president.

The election of  Italy's David Sassoli came a day after Brussels named two women to key posts for the first time.

Sassoli, a 63-year-old former journalist, defeated German Green Ska Keller, far-left Spaniard Sira Rego and Czech conservative Jan Zahradil at the second round of voting.

Sassoli's election to a two-and-a-half year term as parliament president -- effectively the speaker of the chamber -- is a sought-after post by the major European political families, though less coveted than that of president of the European Commission or European Central Bank.

 The EU leaders on Tuesday nominated German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as commission chief and IMF chief Christine Lagarde to head the European Central Bank, though their appointments still need confirmation.

 The national leaders also suggested that the chamber's presidency should be shared for the next five years by the Socialists and Tajani's centre-right EPP.

Sassoli's election completes the first part of this, but it remains unclear whether he will make way in due course.

 Von der Leyen is expected to visit parliament in the afternoon to court MEPs, whose approval is needed to confirm her position as commission chief.

The new MEPs elected in May's European polls took office on Tuesday during a brief inaugural session before voting by secret ballot to choose Sassoli as successor to Antonio Tajani, a conservative from Italy.

 The 751-seat parliament -- based in Strasbourg, France -- is more fragmented than ever after the May election saw solid gains by the liberals and Greens as well as the far right and eurosceptics.

 The vote for president completes the roster of the EU's five most important jobs, with the others settled on Tuesday at the end of three days of negotiation among the EU's 28 national leaders in Brussels.

 

Agence France-Presse