The candidates to become the next president of the European Parliament held a hustings debate on 11 January 2012.
Three MEPs have formally announced they wish to replace Jerzy Buzek, whose two and half year term came to an end in December:
• Nirj Deva, British Conservative member of the ECR group
• Martin Schultz, German social democrat and outgoing leader of the S&D group
• Diana Wallis, British Liberal Democrat, but standing as an independent
Under the conventions of the European Parliament there are two presidents in every five year parliamentary session.
An informal deal was struck after the 2009 elections to ensure that the centre-right EPP group held the first presidency for the first half of the session, before being replaced at the mid-term elections by an MEP from the socialist group.
However Ms Wallis and Mr Deva threw their hat in the ring to ensure that there would be an election.
Nirj Deva began the hustings by describing himself as the "kamikaze candidate", being a representative of one of the smaller political groups. However he said he wanted to force an election to avoid the presidency "being bartered away, demeaning us all".
He called on the presidency to be removed from the "network of patronage managed by the big political groups".
Next to speak was Diana Wallis, who is currently one of the European Parliament's vice-presidents, with a promise that she would blow "winds of change" through the parliament if elected.
She called for the parliament to develop better relationships with national parliaments, with a warning that "we cannot 'do Europe' alone".
The final speaker was Martin Schultz, seen as the favourite to win the presidency.
He said the EU was living in "dangerous times", and warned of a mood of "renationalisation" growing across the continent.
His presidency would, he said, be used to fight against any marginalisation of the European Parliament in the EU's legislative process.