World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Parliament (AP) has elected Italian conservative Antonio Tajani as its new president to replace German Social Democratic politician Martin Schulz.
Tajani was elected in the fourth round of voting as three rounds saw no absolute majority of votes. He won 351 votes against 282 for Gianni Pittella in the fourth round.
The silver-haired Tajani is a former European commissioner who has faced criticism over the Volkswagen "Dieselgate" emissions scandal and previously served as spokesman for scandal-plagued Berlusconi.
Early on Tuesday the head of the parliament's Liberal group, former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, pulled out of the race and threw his support behind Tajani, the candidate of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) grouping.
"It is absolutely necessary. With Trump, with Putin, with many other challenges Europe faces, it is key we cooperate to reform our union," said Verhofstadt.
The deal secures Verhofstadt's important role as parliament's chief negotiator in talks over Britain's departure from the European Union.
EPP party chief Manfred Weber said: "Our partnership is based on content and on reforms for Europe."
Speaking after the announcement of the results, Tajani said he dedicated his success to the victims of the 2016 earthquake in Italy and called on unity in Europe.