Jerzy Buzek, former prime minister of Poland and European Parliament member since 2004, has just been elected president of the European Parliament.
The voting finished right before noon on 14 July, during which it was announced that Buzek had received 555 votes out of 736 total MEPs – 75 percent – making his win official. Buzek then thanked his fellow EU Parliament members for electing him president, and promised to work together with those who had not elected him.
“I treat this election as a sign for our [former communist] countries […] and I feel like a representative of all of these countries,” Buzek stated. “For five years we have been building a united Europe. There is no ‘you’ and ‘us’, there is one Europe.”
Earlier, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski had told Polish television that the election of a president from a former Eastern Bloc country, and especially a Pole, is a “reason for joy”. Buzek’s election is not just a matter of prestige and pride, but a sign of Poland’s accepted place in Europe.
Speaking to the Parliament at the start of the session, Buzek gave a brief overview of his political career, which began in 1980, with the Solidarity movement. “I fought for freedom and the rights of humans and citizens [in Solidarity in 1980].” Buzek promised to uphold freedom and human rights if elected president.
Buzek then stressed the need for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which would streamline the way the European Union functions, in his view. However, he then underlined a more urgent matter: “The biggest crisis that we must overcome is the crisis of the lack of trust from our citizens […] Our citizens often do not understand us – we [European Parliament members] must do everything to change this.”
Before the election, Buzek was promised the support of the five largest political parties in the European Parliament: the Christian Democrats (European People’s Party), the Socialists, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, The Greens–European Free Alliance, and the newest party, formed last month, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. His only contender was Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson.
See also: A Pole to Lead EU Parliament?