19/01/2012 Hannes Swoboda becomes the new leader of the European Parliament’s S&D group
With Martin Schulz elected President of the European Parliament on January 17th, his position as group leader of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) has passed to Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda. Mr. Swoboda was elected by group members garnering 102 votes (French MEP Catherine Trautmann received 45 votes and British MEP Stephen Hughes received 37).
A member of Austria’s Social-Democrat party, Mr. Swoboda entered the European Parliament in October 1996 following the partial European elections that took place when Austria became a Member State. He became vice-president of the S&D group the following year – a position he held until 2012. He is a member of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs (AFET) specialized in the Balkans, and is also the annual rapporteur for the European Parliament on Croatia’s candidacy to join the European Union.
His election came after an internal campaign with two other competitors in the race – Catherine Trautmann (FR) and Stephen Hughes (UK). While a win by Mr. Swoboda, favourite of the new Parliament President Martin Schulz, was thought by many to be a foregone conclusion, suspense was high as the group members voted and was held until the result was announced.
The new EP president
The European Parliament elected German MEP Martin Schulz (S&D) as its president on January 17th with an absolute majority of 387 votes; there were 142 votes for Nirj Diva (ECR, UK) and 141 votes for Diane Wallis (ALDE UK). Martin Schulz takes over from Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek (EPP) for a mandate of two and a half years at the head of the Parliament.
Besides the Socialists and Democrats, only the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) have changed their president halfway through the mandate. In mid-December, Martin Callanan, who is leader of the British Conservative MEPs, replaced Czech MEP Jan Zahradil as ECR leader with 46 votes. Scottish candidate Struan Stevenson received just nine votes.
The Greens/EFA group’s elections renewed the mandate of their co-presidents (and only candidates) – Daniel Cohn-Bendit (FR) and Rebecca Harms (DE) – on December 13th. Similarly in the European People’s Party (EPP) group, the current president and only candidate Joseph Daul was reelected with a majority of 220 votes for and 12 against.
Leaders of the ALDE group (Guy Verhofstadt), GUE (Lothar Bisky) and EFD (Nigel Farage and Francesco Enrico Speroni) were elected in 2009 for a mandate of five years.