The Socialists and Democrats “do not know yet” whether the group will seek to hold onto the European Parliament’s presidency for a second term, Times of Malta has been told.

Nationalist Party MEP Roberta Metsola was on Wednesday confirmed as the candidate of choice of her own group, the European People’s Party (EPP). She won a three-way race with an overwhelming majority and, if elected president, she would hold the highest-ever EU role for any Maltese national.

But while many rushed to congratulate the MEP on her achievement, all eyes have now shifted to the other major political group, the S&D, as questions over whether it will seek re-election persist.

If that turns out to be the case, this could potentially be a game-changer as Metsola could find herself having to battle it out with other strong candidates.

Her major opponent could possibly also be incumbent president David Sassoli, who belongs to the S&D family.

Backtracking on 2019 deal

In comments to Times of Malta, a spokesperson for the S&D said the group does not yet know whether it will be seeking a second term. There has also been no deadline set for when any potential announcement on the matter could be made, the spokesperson said.

If the group does seek re-election, this would mean going back on a 2019 deal that should see Sassoli step aside after his two and a half year term is over to allow a candidate from the EPP to take up the role.

Despite Sassoli having yet to formally declare his intention to seek re-election, Brussels news sites have reported on speculation that the Italian president has been making it clear to colleagues he has does not want to give up the role.

His health, however, remains an issue. In recent weeks, Sassoli was forced to stay in Italy to recover from a bout of pneumonia. In September, Metsola had to step in for Sassoli and preside over the European Parliament during the annual State of the Union address after he fell ill.

Meanwhile, sources in Brussels have told Times of Malta that the fact Metsola secured so many votes put the MEP in a “very strong” position.

However, deals between the different groups are constantly being cut and that too could impact the Maltese MEP’s chances.

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