7 JUN 2011
By Andrew Willis
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Electing the president of the European Parliament is typically decided in a back-room carve-up between the legislature's two largest groups, but internal dynamics and personal dislikes could alter next January's vote.
Under the agreement struck between the centre-right EPP group and the Socialists (PES) in 2009, Socialist leader Martin Schulz is tipped to take over from parliamentary president Jerzy Buzek (EPP) half-way through the current five-year legislative period.
Designed to ensure the largest groups maintain a grip on power, the informal system is unpopular with smaller groups however, who are typically excluded from the post, despite potentially having strong candidates.
But sources in parliament's corridors suggest the changeover this time may be different, with some members of the centre-right EPP group potentially reluctant to give their backing to Schulz.
The parliament's third largest group, the Liberals, 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.
They are hoping to capitalise on potential resistance by members of the centre-right EPP group to give their backing to Schulz, known for his abrasive political style. Any manoeuvre by a smaller group would be helped by the fact that the presidential vote is a secret ballot, requiring a simple majority.
"At present, we haven't decided whether we will put forward a candidate ... its something we will look at in the autumn," a senior Liberal source told this website.
"It's clear however that the current EPP-PES carve-up doesn't rejoice us. We believe that the president should be elected on merit."
"It's also evident that Schulz's aura is not one that is appreciated in parliament, to put it mildly. His style is highly direct."
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