Face-off between Italians, Poles over Parliament presidency

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Banking on remaining the largest group in the EU assembly after the June elections, the centre-right EPP-ED group is already delving into its pool of delegates to select the appropriate candidate to nominate for the Parliament presidency: will it be Poland’s Jerzy Buzek or Italy’s Mario Mauro?

Jerzy Buzek, a former Polish prime minister (1997-2001), has been unofficially lined up for almost a year as the EPP-ED’s candidate for the next president of the European Parliament (EURACTIV 25/04/08). But EPP-ED Group President Joseph Daul recently announced a second candidate.

“We have two candidates: Mario Mauro, who has been designated by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Jerzy Buzek, who was nominated by Polish PM Donald Tusk,” said Daul.

Among the reasons to believe that Buzek could be the candidate of the centre-right EPP-ED, currently the largest group in the Parliament, is that the June election is the second ballot to include new member states since they joined the EU five years ago. Poland is the biggest of these, while Buzek is considered a heavyweight politician and is a well-respected MEP.

But the Italians also have compelling arguments in favour of Mauro. Italy is one of the EU’s founding members, and has never had a European Parliament president since the first parliamentary elections in 1979.

As Italians are not looking for another major post, experts note, their claim might get better received than the one issued by Warsaw, which is also seeking the appointment of Foreign Minister Rados?aw Sikorski to the post of NATO secretary-general.

Decision after the elections

“Everything would depend on the election results,” said Daul yesterday (24 March) in Strasbourg. “If Buzek and Mauro are re-elected, there will be a democratic vote in the group,” he added.

The Italians could become the second-largest national group in the EPP-ED, after eight MEPs from the dissolved Alleanza Nazionale announced their intention to leave the Union for a Europe of the Nations (UEN) and join the Il Popolo della Liberta party of Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, which sits in the EPP-ED group. This is because the British Conservatives – currently the second-largest national group – intend to leave the EPP-ED.

The 47 year-old Mario Mauro was elected to the Parliament in 1999. He is one of the EU assembly’s 14 vice-presidents and a member of the Forza Italia party. He refused to comment on his possible nomination. 

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