Anti-abortion politician elected youngest EU parliament chief

Published January 19, 2022
Roberta Metsola, the newly elected head of the European Parliament.—AFP
Roberta Metsola, the newly elected head of the European Parliament.—AFP

STRASBOURG: Maltese politician Roberta Metsola was elected head of the European Parliament on Tuesday, the youngest person ever to clinch the job, but fanning controversy for her opposition to abortion.

The appointment of the centre-right 43-year-old from the EU’s smallest nation comes a week after the sudden death of outgoing centre-left parliament president David Sassoli, who was already due to step down this month as part of the power-sharing pact.

Metsola — a member of the largest bloc, the European People’s Party — won a sweeping majority with 458 votes in a secret ballot after a deal between the leading political groupings. She becomes the third woman to head the chamber.

MEPs applauded and sang “Happy Birthday” as Metsola scooped the top job on the day she turned 43 — becoming the youngest ever head of the legislature.

“In the next years, people across Europe will look to our institution for leadership and direction, while others will continue to test the limits of our democratic values and European principles,” Metsola said in her acceptance speech.

“We must fight back against the anti-EU narrative that takes hold so easily and so quickly.”

The mother-of-four styles herself as a pro-LGBTQ progressive and champion of women’s rights. But her tough stance over abortion has drawn criticism from opponents.

Abortion is illegal in largely Catholic Malta and Metsola in June voted against a report urging all member states to offer safe access to terminations.

That stance saw the Left and Green groups in parliament field two staunchly pro-choice feminists as their challengers.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022

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