Metsola bides her time on EPP candidature for European Parliament presidency

Nationalist MEP and EP vice-president Roberta Metsola keeps cards close to her chest over plans for presidency candidature

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola
Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola

European Parliament vice-president Roberta Metsola has not confirmed her intention to run for the post of President on behalf of her political group, the EPP.

Austrian MEP Othmar Karas this week announced his bid to become the European Parliament’s next president, with the conservative ÖVP backing his candidacy.

The EPP (European People’s Party) will be voting for its candidate to contest the post of European Parliament president.

While tipped as a possible EPP candidate for European Parliament president, Metsola could be expected to announce her candidature sometime next week.

“It is an ongoing debate and the matter will be decided through an internal process in my party… in the next couple of weeks, all candidates will be coming forward to signal their intention for this position of the House.”

With an election for the European Parliament president slated to happen in January 2022 – for half of the five-year legislature that started in 2019 – it is expected, though not taken for granted, that an MEP from the European People’s Party be elected to the post currently held by the Italian social-democrat David Sassoli.

Othmar Karas is one of the longest-serving and most influential MEPs in the EPP, but his support in the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) is said to have waned in recent years, belonging to the more traditional faction of the ÖVP.

In September, Metsola was catapulted into a rehearsal for the role itself, when illness struck EP president David Sassoli (Socialists and Democrats) from the key date of the European Parliament calendar: the State of the EU address by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. Vice-president Roberta Metsola stepped in to preside over the important sitting, all eyes on one of the papabili for the role.

The leaders of the EU agreed at the beginning of the legislature that the presidency of the EC could go to the centre-right, the Council to the Liberals (Charles Michel), and the EP to the social-democrats for the first half of the term.

But the European People’s Party president of its European parliamentary group, the German MEP Manfred Weber, has decided he would forgo a bid for the role, realising that MEPs might squirm at the notion of so much institutional power being held in German hands: him and Von der Leyen.

Weber decided he will run again for head of the MEPs’ group, but also the EPP umbrella group of national parties, when Donald Tusk steps down in April 2022.

Secondly, Weber’s number two, the Spanish vice-president Esteban Gonzalez Pons has already declared he will not be a candidate for the January 2022 election for the EP presidency, instead calling for a “consensus” candidate that is supported by “pro-European” forces across all the parliament.

Metsola is a known quantity: as vice-president of the EP, she also worked on one of the toughest migration dossiers that further sealed her reputation as a knowledgeable MEP who can work with other groups, and also sitting squarely in the political centre.

Her Dutch colleague, Esther De Lange, also tipped for the candidature, is considered more of a hawkish candidate, and hailing from one of the ‘frugal’ EU member states which demand more fiscal discipline from the EU’s southern members.

Ewropej Funded by the European Union

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

More in Ewropej