It’s been one of the worst-kept secrets in and around the corridors of the European Parliament but now it is finally official and confirmed: the German leader of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Martin Schulz
will "certainly be a candidate for President of the European Parliament
He made this declaration during his regular press conference
as the Parliament met for its monthly plenary in Strasbourg, and he will hope that in January 2012 all ‘goes to plan’ and he takes over from incumbent President Jerzy Buzek
(from the EPP group) without opposition.
At the beginning of the current legislature in the summer of 2009, the two largest groups in Parliament – the centre-right EPP
and the socialist S&D
- struck a deal for the current legislative period that would see an EPP candidate head up the Assembly for the first half the five-year mandate and an S&D candidate assume this position for the second half. As a result, the S&D put forward no candidate in the Presidential election held during the July 2009 plenary session leaving Jerzy Buzek with sole opposition in the form of Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson
from the Nordic Green Left group who was overwhelmingly defeated by 555 votes to 89
As such, Mr Schulz’s candidacy has, and has always had, the support of EPP group leader Joseph Daul, who commented
: “We concluded a technical agreement and the EPP will respect it
But according to the EU Observer this week
, Mr Schulz’s coronation may not be the smooth ride he expects with the article referring to sources in the parliament's corridors that suggest “some members of the centre-right EPP group [are] potentially reluctant to give their backing to Schulz
At the same time, the Parliament's third largest group, the liberal ALDE
group headed by former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, are “quietly assessing whether a candidate from their political family could secure the votes of enough dissatisfied centre-right deputies to come out on top in January's vote
Since Mr Schulz is not the most liked MEP in the chamber, any movement by MEPs to oppose his succession will be greatly helped by the fact that the presidential vote is a secret ballot, and requires only a simple majority.