Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek has been elected President of the European Parliament, the first MEP from the former eastern bloc to fill the position.
Buzek, 69, served as Poland's prime minister between 1997 and 2001. He led Poland into NATO in 1999 and prepared his country for accession to the European Union in 2004. He was an activist in the anti-communist movement in Poland, including the Solidarity trade union in the 1980s.
Buzek, a member of the Civic Platform party (currently the governing party in Poland) and the right-of-centre European People's Party in the European Parliament, received a resounding endorsement with 555 votes, against 89 votes for Swede Eva-Britt Svensson from the communist EUL-NGL group. Graham Watson of ALDE withdrew from the contest in early July.
Buzek will serve a two-and-a-half-year term before handing over to President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, German Martin Schulz, in a deal sealed between the parliament's two largest factions.
14 July 2009