Three candidates have come forward to contest the election for the next President of the European Parliament on 17 January 2012. Whoever MEPs choose to elect (very likely to be German Social Democrat Martin Schulz) will inherit the Presidency during a debt and credit crisis that is exposing deep divisions between member-states, and at a time when the democratic deficit between citizens and the European institutions has rarely seemed wider. The incumbent president, Jerzy Buzek, last week gave his valedictory speech and admitted he had come close to losing hope during his term:

We have not prepared our community for difficult and more challenging times. We did not have enough political will and we did not convince our citizens of such a project. We even broke our own rules! Discipline was lost. Three years ago, the financial crisis sailed across the Atlantic; we were not prepared for such a situation. Arguments about self-interest began to erode our belief in the common good, and now our union has moved into a deep crisis whose causes are as much political and psychological as economic.

Martin Schulz is almost certain to be elected President of the European Parliament as part of a long-standing deal struck between the two largest political groups in the European Parliament: the centre-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) – led by Martin Schulz – and the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). Despite this, two British MEPs – Conservative Nirj Deva and Liberal Democrat Diana Wallis – have announced they will be running against Schulz in an effort to sabotage the deal.


We’d really like to know what YOU think about this. Who do YOU think should be the next President of the European Parliament and why? Together, the S&D and the EPP have a clear majority in the European Parliament, so does it matter if they craft a deal between themselves to share the position of EP President? Or do you think this arrangement excludes smaller groups from being represented?

We’ll be speaking to MEPs about this, and we want to take some of your comments and ideas directly to them. Do you care who the next President of the European Parliament is? Does it make a difference? Let us know your comments on this topic in the form below, and we’ll take them to MEPs for their response.

UPDATE: An excellent point was made by Peter in the comments, arguing that we should explain further some of the policies the different candidates are suggesting. That might be tricky, as the campaigns have been fairly inward-facing until now (involving lobbying fellow MEPs, who will be the ones actually voting for the President, rather than appealing directly to citizens). Diana Wallis has, however, published a manifesto that can be found online here. It includes proposals to strengthen collaboration with national parliaments and the President working more with citizens’ groups.

Nirj Deva doesn’t appear to have published a manifesto online, but a letter sent to MEPs from his campaign is purported to have asked “Why Deva?”, replying: “Inclusive, non-partisan, multicultural, international stature and respect”. If you can find any other material from his campaign, please let us know in the comments.

Martin Schulz also doesn’t seem to have a manifesto anywhere online. However, he was quoted following his nomination as saying: “It is early days, of course, and there is still to be an election in January. But, if I am elected I will seek to work with other group leaders in order to help reinforce this institution.”

UPDATE II: Diana Wallis has responded to some of your questions and comments in this post in an interview with Debating Europe here.

42 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar

    If you ask for the confidence in a person, you should at least briefly introduce some important ideas, they want to implement with their mandate. I am certainly one of the people, who is a little more interested in politics than the average, but I haven’t even heard of Ms Wallis or Mr Deva.

  2. avatar

    I´ve voted for Martin Schulz because he had some very good statements in the past an he´s a “Voice of Europe”, heard in the past month – even to the problems to the debt crisis – and he´ll be heard in the future (I hope). He has his own opinion to the various political sectors.

    Due to the respect for Mdme. Wallis. I´ve never heard a real statement in the past. I don´t know what she wants and for me she isn´t a person with an authentic face. I´m afraid she will candidate only for her own reputation – sorry Mrs. Wallis

  3. avatar
    Debating Europe

    Peter – a very good point. We’ve updated the post. We’ve also already approached each of the candidates to see if they’ll agree to an interview, and we’ll try to ask them directly what they would do. If you find any other information online about any of the candidates’ campaigns, please do share it here!

  4. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    If I had to vote for a political party that would be the liberal party and consequelty in our case as far as the person is concerned for Diana Wallis. I don’t know anything about Mrs Wallis except those stated in this page. The same with the rest of the candidates.
    I beleive though that the following question should be addressed prior to the current one and that is : ” What can we expect from the next President of the European Parliament”

  5. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Either Mrs Wallis or Mr Schulz are good for me…Good luck to them both…I like both of their work and I hope the best wins…

  6. avatar
    Cyberman :)

    As they are voted for by the people i would like….oh hang on…they arn`t.

    So i couldn`t care less.

  7. avatar

    I’ve voted for Ms.Wallis.
    Even if we know that Shulz will probably win and even if he’s probably not a bad candidate, having a little bit of competition is something good in this case.
    At present we have two problems, the first is that not having any kind of open competition for this seat, media are not interested in the whole thing and so people do not know of it at all. Of course the President of EP isn’t a very powerful seat, so even a race for it would never be something so engaging, but a little bit of competition and disclosure to the citizens of the whole process will be something beneficial.
    And so we come to the next problem: the tradition of the closed door agreements between the two major parties. This is something bad. I think in some cases there could be such a kind of agreements, but #1 they cannot be a non-written rule or tradition, they could happen sometimes without becoming a kind of norm, #2 they do not have to happen behind closed doors, they have to be debated in a public debate in a plenary session of the European Parliament itself.

  8. avatar
    Ray Georgeson

    Diana Wallis should be the next President of the European Parliament. She is a credible candidate who has been brave enough to challenge the undemocratic ‘arrangement’ between the two main blocs and has a genuine track record of campaigning for greater transparency in the dealings of the Parliament and Brussels in general. MEPs would be taken more seriously as reformers if they broke the mould for once and supported her candidacy.

  9. avatar
    Dr. Wolfram Janzen

    I have voted for Diana Wallis. I am impressed of her standing up for the victims of the abuse of the Spanish coastel law. She has decleared clearly that the Spanish government has to accept the european declarations for legal property. I am living in Roses – Santa Margarita (Costa Brava) where the Spanish government has applied the costal law arbitrarily ( Margarita is a legal constructed urbanisation mostly far from the sea with navigables canals to the sea feeded by river water). All legal acquired and registered
    properties at the canals are affected (see: http://www.euroclub
    We are disappointed by many german members of the european parliament which have lost us alone.

  10. avatar
    Konrad Ringler

    I would give my vote to Diana Wallis, we need people to represent Europe in a much broader sense, readable and above and beyond the ideology of parties!
    We need leaders for identification of what Europe is standing for.
    Mr. Schulz certainly had his strong moments and I recall
    some arguments with heads of state but I also recall
    his statement in the European parliament when he said : In this matter, “The Scandal that wont go away ” the Spanish Ley de Coastas” ,we have to vote with the Spanish socialist,
    agreeing with the retroactive application of a law from 1988,
    that was more or less not applied for 20 years, expropriating 100000 owners ,mostly European citizens that
    have legally bought property in Spain, trusting to notaries
    Escrituras and the registry of owners and a member nation of Europa.
    That is my reason for not supporting Mr. Schulz, as it sets an example, he is not above party ideology and that is what we don´t need for the presidency in Europe, we need people that promote the EU-Charta!

  11. avatar
    simon wilson

    Diana Wallis has the character, vision, integrity and policies to be an excellent President of the European Parliament.

  12. avatar

    In these troubled and difficult times, with the larger member states usurping the European union and it’s essential and unifying character, Parliament needs a President who respects Euope’s diversity and who can speak for the citizens and stand up for their rights contained in the Charter. As a champion of transparency and openness and as one of the key players with regard to the Citizen’s Initiative, and as a supporter of so many important democratic actions on behalf of Europe’s citizens and residents Diana deserves to win out against the hegemony of the larger groups which too often only support the dominant member states.

  13. avatar

    Dear Diana Wallis MEP :
    I wish you much success and glory in the new year .

  14. avatar
    Raluca Elena Kobrija

    no one account our oppinion.but I think that the most appropriate candidate for this function would be German Social Democrat Martin Schulz

  15. avatar
    Mike Beckett

    Who would be best for Europe has to be the question?

    To me of the three Diana Wallis’s track record gives me the most confidence in her ability to make the most difference leading much needed reform from within which is what is most needed rather than comfortable business as usual which has prevailed for too long…

  16. avatar
    Le Bond

    I must strongly salute Diana Wallis for her courage to move forward with her candidacy against the establishment. Diana, with 12 years as MEP and 5 as Vice President of the EP possesses unarguably and undisputed competences to lead the EP under the present «European Hurricane».

    It’s up to the MEP’s decide the kind of Parliament they want. In a simple strategic assessment I cannot believe that the majority of the MEP’s wants a German President. We need to balance the power within the EU Institutions.

    Diana Wallis can lead the European Parliament and introduce further competences laid on the Lisbon Treaty. The EP lives these days under the shadow of back stage deals between the EPP and S&D with an unbelievable silence from the ALDE group. It is time for a more «democratic» EP. Diana Wallis can address with success (I believe) this and other key issues.

    Take 5 minutes and visit Diana Wallis Campaign Facebook page at:

    and also her new Blog at:

    Maybe…just maybe the necessary MEP’s will make a silent decision and opt to elect Diana Wallis even against the «invisible» orders from their political groups.

    We as EU Citizens should support this Candidacy and help to raise it through our own networks.

    Le Bond

  17. avatar

    Problem for both British candidates is that Cameron’s behaviour is very unlikely to have increased their chances. It would look as if the EP actually supported Cameron’s unwillingness to discuss compromises of any kind, which I doubt is the case. Their chances would likely be much better if they came from any other nation.

  18. avatar
    David Arnold

    I am voting for Diana Wallis
    She is truly independent and as she was not proposed by any group therefore is not obligated to anyone. So this makes for a democratic election.
    If you don’t know about her she was a London solicitor. She is fluent in French, German and English of course.
    She works tirelessly for the parliament as a vice-president for the last five years, after first being elected twelve years ago.
    She has worked for the European Parliament all over Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and the USA.
    The general consensus is that she is well respected in the chamber for her firm but fair approach, as in all her work.
    She has worked hard in the JURI Group and in representing the present president.
    She has been leading the to make the parliament more ‘transparent’ and has pushed though the registration of ‘lobbyists’.
    Ideal as the new President.

  19. avatar

    I was a stagier in the ALDE group, working for the EP’s Legal Affairs Committee in 2009, when I met Diana Wallis. She was one of the most committed MEPs, very professional, very kind, very passionate about her work. I am sure she is the best candidate. I strongly hope she will become the President of the EP.

  20. avatar

    I voted for Diana Wallis for a number of reasons. Firstly, a more progressive president is what Europe needs right now- a socialist president or a conservative president would push things too far one way, which destabilises things in the area both financially and politically, and then gives rise to a reactionary, which swings it in the opposite direction. Too long has this gone on in Europe, and someone like Diana would change this- the EU needs calm right now!

    Secondly, we know that the socialist bloc would prefer to spend their way out of trouble. While this may work in certain circumstances, the enormous financial problems facing the EU require a balanced hand and a degree of cuts. For the same reason, the more right-wing blocs wouldn’t do much good to the EU.

    On a different note, whoever wrote this article seems somewhat biased towards Mr. Schulz. As they say, a week is a long time in politics, and to tip someone so strongly amounts to a degree of favouritism.

  21. avatar
    maria manuela alves gomes fernandes

    It`s urgent a real change, a real hope, a return to politic not economic, if we were moved by real values of humanity, economic goes naturally, as all we made in ours lifes. I vote in Diana, because I`m agree with what she propose to do, We all need a real democracy and I believe that is possible, a real union, with real solidarity and responsablity of all. We are all importants, but we are also in different stages us citizens, with social responsability and intervention (since here, this particularity was used as a weak, but we all can learn). The world, the earth, the persons, doesn`t belongs to anyone, but they are a responsability of each other, care and help they grow.

  22. avatar
    Sam Murray

    I have voted for Diana Wallis as she seems to be the candidate to realise the importance of relating with the citizens of europe. The citizens initiative give an opportunity for us to engage with the EU parliament. At a time when my country (UK) holds a public opinion to leave the EU it is evident there is need to educate people so they actually realise how import being in the EU is!

    Schulz’s election would only promote an elitism within the EU parliament promoting a mockery of such an institution and alienating any citizen engagement.

  23. avatar

    Dear Diana Wallis MEP :
    I wish you much success and glory in the new year, you will have full support from me for next E.U President.

  24. avatar

    Diana Wallis would be an excellent choice as President. She would lead the union with integrity, and transparency.

    To me she has the best qualitites to lead Europe through these difficult times.

  25. avatar
    Simon McGrath

    we need a candidate like Diana wallis who will not be part of a stitch up between the two big groupings

  26. avatar
    Alisa Grabovica

    If I had had the chance I would have voted for Diana Wallis. Three years ago we met in Potocari and when I thought she completely forgot me she sent me an e-mail expressing her wish to apply for EUVP. Thanks to her, I visited Brussels and saw her one more time. She is a remarkable young woman who never forgets “ordinary” people and who gives her best to help their wishes come true. My wish became reality. I am so thankful to her. I hope she will be elected as the President of EP since her skillfulness and honesty are undoubtedly needed.
    Many greeting from Bosnia!!!

  27. avatar
    Schmitz Bob

    Diana as President would make a distinct difference by overcoming the traditional sharing of the job between the two big political parties. It would mean that personal merits and a strong record of a pro-European attitude ( listening to all stakeholder sides) would be accounted for. One risk : Diana would be taken up by the many institutional and protocol needs and will be less available to fight on the individual issues especially in the Legal Committee where Europe needs her still desperately !

    Good luck !

    Bob Schmitz
    EU regulatory consultant

  28. avatar
    Christian von Bar

    Frau Wallis ist eine großartige Europäerin, die ich seit langen Jahren bewundere. Beruflich hatten wir häufig miteinander im Zusammenhang mit der Entwicklung eines Europäischen Vertragsrechts zu tun. Frau Wallis ist eine sehr beeindruckende, führungsstarke, menschliche und glaubhafte Persönlichkeit. Sie hat dem Vereinigten Königreich über Jahre hinweg ein überzeugtes europäisches Gesicht und eine wirkmächtige europäische Stimme gegeben. Gerade in dieser Zeit des Europaskeptizismuns im Vereinigten Königreich wäre es ein Segen für die Union, eine derart überzeugende und überzeugte Europäerin aus England an der Spitze des Europäischen Parlaments zu haben.

  29. avatar
    Matthew Barker

    Nirj Deva should be President to represent the majority of UK public, and varying degrees of Public Opinion in other MS’s, who want less European Governance. Putting a ECR MEP in this role would be a sign of respect towards popular concern about excessive European level power. This is in the interests of more pro-integration MEPs as it would increase the credibility of the institution.

  30. avatar

    Diana Wallis would make an excellent candidate for President. She has shown from her work as Vice-President and on the Legal Afairs Committee that she can be a dedicated and effective voice for a range of diverse political interests. By electing her, the Parliament would also be lending support to those far-sighted British pro-Europeans whose Europeanism is sustained in the face of a hostile press in the UK and an unsympathetic government. It is a cause which would send a clear message of the Parliament’s dedication to serving Europe’s citizens independently of the intertests of national parties and governments.

  31. avatar
    Ray Georgeson

    I am stunned to read on the European Commission’s Facebook page tonight an announcement saying that when “Jerzy Buzek’s mandate is up, the president of the party of European Socialists will take over as President of the EP”!! Such is the arrgance and complacency of the tired ‘stitched up’ system that they announce that they know the result even before the election takes place! I thought this was the European Union, not North Korea. They should withdraw this statement and apologise to the other candidates. If ever there was a reason to vote for refoorm and transparency in the form of Diana Wallis MEP, then this is surely it.

  32. avatar

    Diana Wallis is knowledgeable, hard-working and experienced. Also her election would prevent a ‘stitched-up’ result.

  33. avatar
    Monica Wusteman

    The European Parliament is fond of claiming that it gives democratic legitimacy to the EU. Now it is time to democratise itself. We should all be grateful to Diana Wallis for taking this bold step. Her deep committment to the European ideals of human rights and democracy, her willingness to listen to her constituents and the sheer hard work she puts in to representing us is well known in York These qualities make her eminently suitable for the role of President of the European Parliament

  34. avatar
    David Pegg

    I am one of Diana’s constituents and have had some experience of lobbying MEPs and members of the Commission in Brussels on a number of humanitarian matters. Diana has always been an invaluable source of help and guidance. Her broad knowledge and experience and her willingness to listen and discuss are qualities that make her an ideal candudate for the Presidency of the EP. The EU procedures are not always straightforward and are certainly in need of improved transparency and efficiency. I ugge all MEPs to take this opportunity to improve the functioning of the Parliament by electing Diana Wallis as President

  35. avatar
    Wim Louwman

    As manager of the CROBECO project, that develops an alternative conveyancing process, I have very much appreciated the publication European Property Rights & Wrongs by Diana Wallis and Sara Allanson. The publication explained why prospective foreign buyers are reluctant to buy properties in countries with a collapsed housing market. Mrs Wallis made clear how we could stimulate the revival of these markets and by doing so of the economy in these countries. This approach of “action not words” in my opinion is very necessary in the present situation.That is why I support the candidacy of Diana Wallis for the Presidency of the European Parliament.

    Wim Louwman, manager of the CROBECO project

  36. avatar
    Lars Magnusson

    I think Martin Schulz is the worst person suitable for this job. The Germans in general seem to feel EU is their property and treat others with disrespect. All key posts in Parliament are directly or indirectly controlled by them.

    If one looks at the voting records of EP presidents, from 2004 when Martin Schultz got the Chairmanship of the Socialist Group, all EP President have since been “selected” in a setup between the Socialists and EPP Group rather than “elected” as a result of the members’ choice as is the general public assumption. Martin Schulz is has even gone so far in this undemocratic arrangement that he dares to call himself “designated president” of European Parliament even before the ballot is cast.
    He has now made the same arrangement within the S&D group by telling Members to support his protégé the Austrian Hannes Swoboda to take over his job as group leader. Socialist MEPs are expected to follow their master for the sake of their own internal positions. The first question Schulz has to answer: is how much democracy is left within this new “Socialism?”

  37. avatar
    Iain Rubie Dale

    I’m backing Diana as I’ve met her numerous times during my time working for Elspeth Attwooll MEP (retired). I found Diana to be a true European and a tireless campaigner for citizen’s from her constituents to the broad pan European spectrum. She is also Liberal to her core and will not beholden to either of the big left or right blocs in the Parliament. Also a great adherent of more powers to the democratically elected EP.

  38. avatar

    I heard the debate in The Parliament last week – Diana was impressive AND refreshing. However the word is it has been stitched up for Schultz long ago so the debate was all a bit of a charade really.

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