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Populist Antonio Tajani (Italy) is the new President of the European Parliament

Conservative Italian MEP Antonio Tajani was elected the 29th president of the European Parliament on Tuesday night. He replaces German Socialist Martin Schulz after he beat countryman Gianni Pittella, also a Socialist.

Tajani of the European People’s Party, won 351 votes in a fourth and final round of voting. Gianni Pittella, his Socialist group rival, won 282 votes in the run-off.

Center-right EPP managed to have its candidate win the election after a partnership with the neo-liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) of former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstad.

“Today a new era begin,” a jubilant Tajani declared at a news conference, minutes after leaving the chamber. “I’ll be president for everybody.”

Antonio Tajani, 63, was one of the fourteen vice-presidents of the European Parliament, served as European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, and was also one of the vice-presidents of the European Commission.

Political & Professional Carreer

In his youth Tajani was a militant of Fronte Monarchico Giovanile (Youth Monarchist Front), a student organization of the Monarchist party of Italy. Even later, he has always advocated for the return from exile of the House of Savoy (banned according to the Italian Constitution until 2002, when the Italian Parliament lifted the ban).

He was one of the founders of the nationalist and populist Forza Italia party in 1994, then regional coordinator of the party in Lazio from 1994 in 2005.

In the first Berlusconi’s government (1994–95), Tajani was a spokesman of the Prime Minister.

Former Air Force officer Tajani worked many years as journalist.

Controversies

In a letter dated 12 February 2013, Environment commissioner Janez Potocnik warned Tajani about “widespread concerns that [car] performance has been tailored tightly to compliance with the test cycle in disregard of the dramatic increase in emissions outside that narrow scope”. Tajani declined to take action or report on Potocnik’s concerns, until the Volkswagen emissions scandal confirmed the commissioner’s concerns in 2015. At the subsequent EMIS hearing on the subject, Tajani falsely claimed that he was not informed of the issue at the time.

In the eve of his election as President of the European Parliament, LGBT and intersex rights group, ILGA-Europe, expressed its disappointment with Tajani’s new political post and his political backing from the EPP and ALDE. ILGA has stated that Tajani’s unfounded concerns with the psychological well-being of same-sex couples and his stance against non heteronormative families are not in line with the European Parliament’s stance on non-discrimination based in sexual orientation.

EPP in control of EP

According to Politico, Tajani’s victory handed the EPP control of the leadership of all three EU institutions — the Parliament, the Commission and the Council — and represented a crushing defeat for the once-predominant Social Democrats, who have seen their influence crumble across the Continent.

Pittella’s defeat mirrored the electoral setbacks that the socialists have faced in national elections across Europe, including in Germany, France and the U.K.

Martin Schulz resigned from the post to head German politics.

Despite Schulz’s unprecedented and bold interventions in Greece’s political scene, we might miss him after all…

The new powers in the EP will certainly go in line with the rising populism across Europe, the issue expected to suffer most is Migration and Refugee Crisis.

Populists in European Parliament and in the USA…. the next years might be funny, yet certainly anything but fun.

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2 comments

  1. I almost wish they voted for Guy Verhofstadt. Almost. But he eventually withdrew his bid.
    The EU and national governments only have themselves to blame for the current wave of populism and conservatism in Europe. Because in times of crises and when people feel threatened by a migrant crisis and terrorism, they will always turn to them. The EU and governments were not able to turn the economic crisis due to the financial crisis and a faulty currency -the Euro- around. Social Democrats over the years also abandoned their traditional base. It is ironic that this base is now flocking to conservatism.