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Summary

  1. Italian Antonio Tajani defeats compatriot Gianni Pittella in runoff to become next European Parliament president
  2. No traditional pre-election deal between biggest two groups on a unity candidate

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Victorious Tajani pledges to 'respect all MEPs'

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Antonio Tajani
BBC

Newly ensconced in the president's chair, Antonio Tajani makes a speech to MEPs - and says he would like to devote his victory to the victims of earthquakes in Italy. 

He pledges to respect "all members of Parliament, and all groups", and to "do his utmost" in his new role. 

And with that, today's sitting closes. MEPs will be back tomorrow from 08.00 GMT, when they will be holding votes to elect the assembly's 14 vice-presidents. 

Tajani elected president after run-off round

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz announces that with 351 out of 633 valid votes in the final round, centre-right Italian MEP Antonio Tajani has been elected as the new president of the European Parliament.

Fellow Italian Gianni Pittella, who stood for the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group, received 282 votes in the run-off. 

Martin Schulz
BBC

Final voting round begins

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz
BBC

Martin Schulz returns to announce the start of the fourth and final voting round, a head-to-head contest between Italian MEPs Antonio Tajani and Gianni Pittella.

After the appointment of a new teller to oversee the voting, the final round gets underway.

The result is expected sometime after 20.00 GMT. 

ECR to support Tajani in run-off

Conservative ECR group tweets:

Final totals for unsuccessful candidates

Election of the European Parliament President

The four eliminated candidates secured the following totals at the third round:

Helga Stevens (Conservative ECR group) – 58 votes

Eleonora Forenza (left-wing GUE group) – 45 votes

Jean Lambert (Green/EFA group) – 53 votes

Laurentiu Rebega (anti-EU ENF group) – 44 votes 

Contest heads to final round

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz tells MEPs that Antonio Tajani still leads after the third round, with 291 out of 690 valid votes cast.

However that still leaves him short of a winning majority – meaning we will go to a fourth and final run-off between him and fellow Italian Gianni Pittella, who came second with 199.

The four other candidates are therefore eliminated at this stage. 

Voting in this round will start at 19.00 GMT, with a result due shortly after 20.00 GMT. 

Martin Schulz
BBC

Third round voting closes

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz briefly returns to announce that third round voting is closed - the votes will now be taken away to be counted once more. 

A result is expected at around 18.00 GMT. 

Martin Schulz
BBC

Third round begins with same candidates

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz is back - and announces that no candidates have decided to withdraw their candidacies for the third round vote.

Equally, he says that no new candidates have decided to put themselves forward.

MEPs begin a third round of voting, with a result expected at around 18.00 GMT.

If no candidate reaches a majority after this, then a final round between the top two candidates will take place from 19.00 GMT.

MEPs vote in the third round
BBC

Respect your elders?

Antonio Tajani
Reuters
Antonio Tajani would win in the event of a final-round tie

If no candidate can get a majority after the next round of voting, then a fourth and final round will be held among the top two candidates.

It is highly unusual for the election to get to this stage – it has only happened once before, when four ballots were required to elect Dutch MEP Piet Dankert in 1982.

In the unlikely event that the candidates receive the same number of votes in the final round, the assembly’s rules dictate that the oldest candidate should be declared the winner.

Presuming that this final showdown would see Antonio Tajani face off against Gianni Pittella, this would see 63-year-old Mr Tajani prevail over his 58 year-old rival.

Other second round results

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The other candidates secured the following scores:

Helga Stevens (Conservative ECR) – 66 votes

Eleonora Forenza (left-wing GUE) – 42 votes

Jean Lambert (Green/EFA group) – 51 votes

Laurentiu Rebega (anti-EU ENF group) – 45 votes 

Tajani still leads after inconclusive second round

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz
BBC

Martin Schulz announces that centre-right group candidate Antonio Tajani still leads after the second round with 287 votes out of 691 valid votes cast.

Once again, however, this means he is still short – this time by 59 votes – of the required majority to gain election, meaning we’ll have a third round of voting this afternoon.

Socialist and Democrat candidate Gianni Pittella again came second, this time with 200 votes.

The third round of voting will take start at 16.30 GMT, with the result expected around 18.00 GMT.

If no candidate reaches a majority after this, then a fourth and final round will take place between the top two candidates. 

Liberal - S&D row over pre-vote deal

Guy Verhofstadt and Gianni Pitella
EPA

As the race to secure a majority of MEPs' votes continues, something of a spat seems to have broken out between the Liberal ALDE and centre-left Socialist and Democrat (S&D) groups. 

Earlier the S&D group sent a press release claiming that they also offered a deal to ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt before he announced his agreement with the centre-left EPP. 

They claim that Mr Verhofstadt did not respond and "apparently did not even inform" his own MEPs about the proposal. 

ALDE has responded with a release of their own claiming that "Mr. Pittella has not contacted Mr. Verhofstadt with a concrete proposal". 

Counting underway on second round votes

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz
BBC

After some last-minute voting, Martin Schulz announces that voting at the second round is closed. 

The tellers will now go off again to count the votes. A result is expected at around 14.00 GMT. 

Second round voting gets underway

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Parliament President Martin Schulz re-emerges to announce the start of the second round of voting.  

He tells MEPs that no new candidates have put themselves forward, and all the candidates who stood in the first round "are still in the race".  

With the eight tellers in place, voting gets underway.

Voting in the second round
BBC

And the rest...

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The remaining candidates secured the following totals:

Helga Stevens (Conservative ECR) – 77 votes

Eleonora Forenza (left-wing GUE) – 50 votes

Jean Lambert (Green/EFA group) – 56 votes

Laurentiu Rebega (anti-EU ENF group) – 43 votes

Tajani leads race after first round

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz
BBC

Martin Schulz announces that Italian MEP Antonio Tajani from the centre-right EPP group leads the field after the first round, gaining 274 out of the 683 valid votes that were cast.

However, this is 68 votes short of the required majority to gain election at this stage, meaning a second ballot will now be held this afternoon from 12.00 noon GMT. 

His main competitor, fellow Italian Gianni Pittella – who stood for the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group – trails in second with 183 votes. 

Mr Schulz asks if any of the candidates wish to drop out at this stage, but none indicate that they wish to do so.   

Counting begins

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Martin Schulz announces that, with all MEPs wishing to vote having marked their ballots, voting for the first round has now closed. 

The sitting has been postponed whilst the MEPs overseeing the process go off to count the votes. 

Martin Schulz
BBC

Labour MEP 'disappointed' by Liberal-EPP agreement

British Labour MEP tweets:

Swedish MEP hails end of 'dysfunctional' grand coalition

Centre-right MEP Swedish MEP tweets:

EPP announces 'pro-European coalition' with liberal group

The centre-right EPP group has posted an official press release declaring that the Liberal ALDE group has agreed to support their candidate Antonio Tajani at today's election. 

Between the two of them, the groups have a combined 285 MEPs - that's 93 short of a majority. 

However it remains to be seen what sort of impact abstentions and spoiled ballots has on the result. 

Th release says the tie-up is part of a "pro-European coalition" that will push the EU Commission for new measures to reform eurozone governance and for greater external security. 

A two-page document on the deal also pledges to ensure the "full involvement of the European Parliament" in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

It states that in any upcoming vote on a Brexit-related resolution, the groups will say that including representatives from Parliament in the negotiations delegation will be a "pre-condition" for an agreement to give their consent to the final deal. 

View more on twitter

First round voting begins

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Current Parliament President Martin Schulz announces the names of eight MEPs who will act as "tellers" to oversee the casting of paper ballots. 

And with that - voting on the first round is underway...the result is expected around 10.30 GMT. 

Martin Schulz
BBC

Tajani: MEPs need 'president not prime minister'

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Antonio Tajani
BBC

Italian MEP Antonio Tajani, the candidate for the centre-right EPP group, says the assembly needs a "good speaker working for everybody".

The Parliament, he adds, needs a "president not a prime minister". 

He pledges that, if elected, he will effectively represent the position of MEPs to both the Commission and the Council, and reduce the number of staff in the president's cabinet. 

Pittella: Parliament must have 'clear divisions'

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

The candidate of the Socialist and Democrat group, Italian MEP Gianni Pitella, says that regardless of the result today, there will no longer be a "grand coalition" in the Parliament. 

The expression has been used to describe informal alliances between broadly pro-EU political groups to help get legislation passed through the chamber. 

He says he would like to guarantee a free "exchange of ideas", underpinned by "clear divisions" between different political positions. 

Gianni Pitella
BBC

Left-wing and Conservative candidates make cases

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Eleonora Forenza
BBC

On behalf of the left-wing GUE group - Eleonora Forenza says that a female president would be able to "interrupt a whole series of jackets and ties" in the role. 

She also says she would push for full ratification of the Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women and girls. 

Conservative ECR candidate Helga Stevens makes a similar point, saying that her candidacy would see an end to the "old boys' club" that has dominated the chamber's politics. 

Adding that the Parliament's current ways of working "leave many out in the cold", she pledges that she would put an end to back-room deal-making and make "every voice matter".

Helga Stevens
BBC

Lambert: MEPs 'should be involved' in Brexit talks

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

British Green MEP Jean Lambert says she appreciates it might be a "radical" move to elect a president from the UK, given the Brexit. 

She says that is it imperative the Parliament "should be involved in the discussions" - given that it will have to ratify any final deal. 

She also says the negotiators should be open to listening to the policy expertise of MEPs.

Jean Lambert
BBC

Rebega: Brexit has 'serious implications' for EU

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

On behalf of the anti-EU Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group, Romanian MEP Laurentiu Rebega says last year's Brexit vote has "serious implications" for the EU. 

He says that "political correctness" has hampered the ability of the EU to solve political problems. 

He says the next president should defend free speech and have the "willingness" to push through compromises. 

Liberals 'to back centre-right EPP'

Financial Times Brussels correspondent tweets:

Schulz announces Verhofstadt withdrawal

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

To quite a reaction in the chamber, Parliament President Martin Schulz announces that Liberal group candidate Guy Verhofstadt has withdrawn his candidacy. 

Mr Verhofstadt - a former Belgian prime minister - is the Parliament's observer at Brexit talks and had previously suggested he might stand down from the role if elected president. 

Martin Schulz
BBC

Who are the candidates?

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

There are seven candidates who were officially announced yesterday:

European People's Party (EPP) - Antonio Tajani (Italy)

Progressive Alliance of Socialist & Democrats (S&D) - Gianni Pittella (Italy)

European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) - Helga Stevens (Belgium)

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) - Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium)

European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE) - Eleonora Forenza (Italy)

European Greens/European Free Alliance - Jean Lambert (UK)

Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) - Laurentiu Rebega (Romania) 

What are the election rules?

Election of the European Parliament President

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Voting will get underway in around half an hour, when each MEP will have the right to cast a secret vote in favour of their choice of the seven official candidates.

In order to win, a candidate must get a majority of the total valid votes that are cast – not necessarily a majority of the total number of MEPs.

If no winner can be found after the first round, then there will be a second and then possibly a third secret ballot this afternoon.

These ballots will also involve all the candidates, minus any who decide to drop out. 

If a winner has not been found after three ballots, then a fourth and final ballot will take place between the two candidates with the most votes in the third round.

New candidates can present themselves before any of the rounds, but must be backed by a political group or at least 38 MEPs. 

MEPs electing a president in 2014
European Parliament

Good morning

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Hello and welcome to coverage of this plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Today, the agenda has been cleared of debates to allow MEPs to elect a new president of the Parliament.

By a secret ballot, they will decide who should replace outgoing President Martin Schulz, who has decided not to stand for a third term.

Instead, he is quitting the Parliament to stand as an MP in Germany in the elections later this year.

Before voting gets underway shortly, each candidate will make short speeches to outline their reasons for standing.