Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Election of president

German social democrat Martin Schulz was elected as the new President of the European Parliament on 17 January 2012.

He replaced outgoing president Jerzy Buzek, during the parliament's mid-term elections.

Mr Schulz received 387 votes in the secret ballot, taking him over the 336 votes needed to secure an absolute majority.

His two competitors - British Conservative Nirj Deva and British Liberal Democrat Diana Wallis - received 142 and 141 votes respectively.

Mr Schulz - formerly the head of the parliament's social democrat group - was the frontrunner to win the election, following a deal struck after the 2009 election between the S&D and the EPP groups.

However following criticism of the deal, Mr Deva and Ms Wallis announced their intention to stand to force and election.

Giving his acceptance speech to MEPs, Mr Schulz told MEPs: "Those who have voted for me can take pride in having done so. Those who didn't vote for me will be pleasantly surprised."

He promised to defend the rights of all MEPs and called for the parliament to have a stronger voice in the EU legislative process, saying "we are paying the price for a lack of parliamentary legitimacy".

He noted that his grandfather had fought in World War I, and his father had been involved in World War II, adding: "We have overcome war and hunger. We have proscribed racism and xenophobia. We live in a free and open Europe."

Mr Schulz's speech was followed by tributes from leaders of all the parliament's political groups.

The majority welcomed Mr Schulz's election, with liberal group leader Guy Verhofstadt calling for "a president who will fight in favour of European federalism", and green group leader Rebecca Harms describing him as a "fantastic parliamentarian".

However Ukip MEP Nigel Farage was less effusive in his praise.

"Mr Schulz is snarling, angry, intolerant of people with an alternative point of view, anti-British to his fingertips," he claimed, warning of "two and half years of political fanaticism" from the new president.

The president oversees plenary sessions of the European Parliament and rules on points of order. The post holder also represents the assembly to heads of state and government.

Useful links:

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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