Martin Schulz is the President of the European Parliament. The outgoing President was re-elected as head of MEPs at the first voting session, with 409 votes, lots more of the required 376 necessary to get the absolute majority. This is the first time for a President to be re-elected since the direct election of the Parliament by EU citizens. Schulz lost votes, though: the sum of its supporters, EPP, S&D and ALDE, would have brought him 479 votes, then 79 are missing. “I thank you for your trust, now I have to gain the confidence of you all, especially those who did not vote me today,” were the first words said by Schulz after his election.
The German politician will then be responsible of leading the European Parliament for the first half of the term. In two years and a half, in fact, it will be necessary to vote for his successor, coming from the EPP as per the agreement between the two parties. Eyes are focused on the Parliament now: someone broke the political agreement for the re-election in fact. Adding populars (221 MEPs), socialists, (191 MEPs) and liberals (61 MEPs), several politicians chose not to vote for the PES candidate. Seventy ‘snipers’ to be found among 28 no-show and 101 void or blank ballot papers. Schulz passed over it, and celebrated his win instead. “When you get 409 votes, you are supported by an overwhelming majority of pro-Europe people, for sure with different points of view, still pro-Europe.” This is what matters for Schulz. Obviously, he decided to minimize the political message coming for the Parliament, from which he tried to escape with some admissions. “I am a human being after all, then I can make mistakes,” he said at the Parliament before the vote, sort of anticipation of the message which was going to emerge. Then, after the re-election, he reminded the audience the rules of the game: “We need competitors in a democracy.” And to his (supposed) supporters, he reminded that an agreement is expected as well, even though “given that in a party system like this, the one who wins, wins it all, and the one who loses, loses it all, I see it is difficult to acknowledge cooperation among different parties.”
Schulz will start his cooperation with the EPP immediately. Was the EPP candidate to be elected as European Commission next President by the European Parliament, as it is expected, he will have to work in tune with him. “I suppose Jean-Claude Juncker will talk to the European Parliament before presenting legislative proposals. We need consultation and negotiation to take place, and I’ll talk to Juncker in the next few days about it.” Then, a message for Renzi, who is to be in Strasbourg tomorrow. “Flexibility is not among the main problems for Italy, while credit crunch is, indeed, especially for SMEs.” Dealing with public accounts, Italy “does not have problems with 3% debt-to-GDP ratio. It has severe issues with debt reduction instead.”