Roberta Metsola has it almost done. This Tuesday morning she will become president of the European Parliament for the remaining half of the legislature, after the first half fell into socialist hands, in the recently deceased David Sassoli, to whom this Monday afternoon the plenary session pays tribute with the presence of the presidents of the European institutions, the French and current president of the Council of the EU, Emmanuel Macron, and the leader of his party, the PD, Enrico Letta.
Indeed, the MEP of the European PP, Maltese, has it almost done to succeed Sassoli because this Monday the Social Democrats have agreed to endorse the 2019 summer pact and support her in the plenary vote. As voting is secret and voting discipline is not strict, vote leaks are common. However, the support of the three main groups in the European Parliament guarantees the position for Metsola, with an anti-abortion profile, forty years after the presidency of the European Parliament of Simone Veil, promoter of the decriminalization of abortion in France.
In exchange for supporting the popular candidate and maintaining the distribution of the legislature agreed in the summer of 2019, the Socialists have obtained important positions in the European Parliament and a joint document with EPP and Renew with political priorities that include demands from the S&D.
Among the positions for the Socialists are five vice-presidents –until now they had three and the EPP, four– and a quaestor –consultative members of the Bureau, which has five–; the presidency of the conference of committee chairmen (CCC), which coordinates the work of the other committees of the European Parliament; and the presidency of the special commission on COVID.
“If all goes well, there could be a progressive majority in the bureau [mesa del Parlamento Europeo]”, affirm socialist sources, “if the Greens and the Left win vice-presidencies. That would open the door to change more things.” Among the things that could change is the general secretariat of the European Parliament, which has been in the hands of a German conservative since 2009, Klaus Welle.
The Bureau is made up of the presidency of the European Parliament, the 14 vice-presidencies and the five quaestors elected by the assembly for a period of two and a half years, renewable.
The group of Socialists and Democrats is the second largest in the European Parliament (145 seats out of 705), which were not enough for a majority of only the left with Greens (68 seats) and The Left (39 seats), while for the On the other hand, from the center to the extreme right, the numbers could come out, as was shown in the Sakharov prize vote, with popular (187 seats), liberals (Renew, 98 seats) and ultra-conservatives (ECR, 63 seats) and the extreme right (ID, 75 seats).
Metsola and abortion
During the current legislature of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola has spoken out on more than one occasion against abortion and women’s reproductive rights.
Last November, the popular candidate opposed a resolution of the European Parliament, dated November 11, 2021, on the first anniversary of the de facto ban on abortion in Poland. Months earlier, in June, it voted against guaranteeing women adequate and affordable health care, universal respect for their sexual and reproductive rights (European Parliament resolution of June 24, 2021 on the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development).
Thus, last June, Metsola voted against a text that said that “restrictive abortion laws (…), poor availability of services, high costs, stigma, conscientious objection by health care providers and unnecessary requirements (…) are among the main barriers to addressing maternal health and contribute to unsafe abortions and maternal deaths.”
The text against which the Maltese woman voted called for “a comprehensive approach to the essential package of sexual and reproductive health, which includes measures to prevent and avoid unsafe abortions and post-abortion care, which must be integrated into the strategies, policies and programs National Health”.
The EPP candidate also voted against, in December 2020, condemning the use of the pandemic as a pretext for some governments to go back on the fundamental rights of workers and women, recalling the inalienable right of access to health care, as well as the right to self-determination over one’s own body (Resolution of the European Parliament, of December 17, 2020, on a strong social Europe for just transitions).
Previously, in July 2020, Metsola had also voted against asking member states to promote and guarantee access to sexual and reproductive rights services, including access to contraception and the right to safe abortion, as well as guarantee comprehensive sexuality education, easy access for women to family planning and the full range of reproductive and sexual health services, including modern contraceptive methods and safe and legal abortion, also in times of crisis (Resolution of the European Parliament , of July 10, 2020, on the post-COVID-19 EU public health strategy).
the other applications
At the moment, the socialist MEPs, in the absence of their own candidate, have two temptations before them: for The Left, Sira Rego (IU), who last week reached out to the Social Democrats and Greens in two meetings with the two groups to weave alliances progressive such as those made possible by the recovery fund, the issue of community debt or the European Parliament’s commitment to the release of patents, for example.
An outstretched hand that, according to sources present at the meetings, has been well received by some and by others.
However, the Greens have ended up deciding to put forward a candidate of their own, after weeks of speculation that they might end up backing Metsola. But the truth is that by a large majority the environmental caucus has decided that it be the former Swedish Minister of Culture Alice Bah Kuhnke who is presented as a candidate to preside over the European Parliament.
This movement guarantees that, at best, Metsola will have the votes popularsocialists and liberals. But they will not all be in a bloc, since there will be a flight to the left and the Greens as there was in the previous vote in July 2019, and then the Socialists did present a candidate, but not the EPP.
Metsola will also have a rival on his right, the Polish ultra-conservative Kosma Złotowski, who in April 2018 was excluded by the European Parliament, along with two other MEPs from the ECR – the right-wing group of Conservatives and Reformists – from any mission as observers. elections after traveling to Azerbaijan without a mandate and making positive comments on the electoral process, in which the opposition did not participate due to lack of guarantees and which culminated in the re-election of the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev –in power since 2003–.
Later, Złotowski joined a campaign to ask Amazon to stop selling clothes and objects with Soviet symbols or with the hammer and sickle. “The USSR was a totalitarian and criminal state. A company like Amazon should know that,” he said. Złotowski was also the host of the first Vox act in the European Parliament, in March 2019, before the European elections, with Javier Ortega Smith and Jorge Buxadé.