Italian Center-Right Candidate Elected As European Parliament President

The EPP group, December 13, voted for another Italian - the former EU Commissioner and one of the 14 vice-presidents of the parliament, Antonio Tajani - to stand for the presidency against Pittella.

Ahead of the run-off, in the third round ballot, Tajani won 291 votes compared to 199 for the center-left Socialists and Democrats' (S&D) Gianni Pittella.

Verhofstadt, a leading European federalist who is also the Parliament's point man on Brexit negotiations, highlighted the challenges the EU faces in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump, who predicted this week that more countries would seek to follow Britain's example and leave the bloc.

Parliamentarians were set to cast their ballots in subsequent rounds for the rest of the day, as candidates try to broker deals to get the necessary support. With the combined weight of Tajani's centre-right party, and Verhofstadt's liberals, first and fourth largest respectively, it is unlikely another candidate can hope to win.

However, at the eleventh hour, Verhofstadt announced that ALDE and EPP had formed a pro-European coalition, in an attempt to broker a new power-sharing deal rocking the previous tie-up between the EPP and the S&D group.

EU lawmakers have elected Italian center-right candidate Antonio Tajani as the next president of the European Parliament - replacing Martin Schulz, who is leaving Brussels for a return to German politics.

The S&D are now arguing against the election of a centre-right candidate, saying it would put conservatives in charge of all major European Union institutions: the commission, the council and the parliament.

The two groups have rotated the leadership of parliament between them for nearly every year since the 1970s.

Tanjani is a former spokesperson for Berlusconi and recently faced criticism for not carrying out his responsibilities in wake of the VW emissions test scandal.

The field narrowed slightly after the seventh candidate, Guy Verhofstadt of the liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party, chose to leave the race before the first round of voting, which is being conducted in the French city of Strasbourg. He has always denied knowing that there were problems with the tests despite warnings from colleagues.

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