JOSE Manuel Barroso is poised to become just the second person to win a second term as European Commission president after a majority of MEPs voted for him.
In a secret ballot in the European Parliament, Barroso got 382 votes with 219 against and 117 abstentions. Centre-right and EU critical members and some Socialists from his native Portugal and neighbouring Spain supported him while the bulk of Socialists abstained.
But afterwards Socialist leader Martin Schultz described the re-appointed president as “the weakest in the history of the EU” and warned they want him to put a new emphasis on strong social policy.
His next encounter with the MEPs will come after he allocates jobs to a new college of commissioners when they are nominated by the member states, probably in November.
Labour MEP and Socialist group member, Proinsias De Rossa, say they will watch carefully who will be put in which job.
The 53-year-old former Portuguese prime minister secured the unanimous backing of member state leaders for the job earlier this year. After the vote yesterday congratulations came flooding in including from Taoiseach Brian Cowen and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
The centre-right European People’s Party, the largest in the parliament and to which the four Fine Gael MEPs belong, hailed the vote as a victory.
Their spokesman Bob Fitzhenry said that since he was nominated as their candidate earlier this year, they had worked very hard to secure enough votes for Barroso, who belongs to their political family.
Barroso secured a majority of the total number of MEPs elected — as would be required under the Lisbon Treaty — even though the vote took place using Nice Treaty rules.
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