Former Italian journalist David-Maria Sassoli elected European Parliament president

July 3 (UPI) — The European Parliament overwhelmingly elected Italian David-Maria Sassoli Wednesday as its new president, with 345 votes in the second round of balloting.

Sassoli, a former television journalist in Italy, thanked lawmakers for the vote of confidence. He’s a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. His election followed a marathon of meetings Monday and Tuesday.

Sassoli said he plans to be a unifying leader.

“We must have the strength to relaunch our integration process, changing our union so to be able to respond more strongly to the needs of our citizens and give real answers to their concerns,” Sassoli said after his election. “We are immersed in momentous transformations: youth unemployment, migration, climate change, the digital revolution, the new world balance, just to name a few, which need new ideas and courage.”

Sassoli’s term will last two and-a-half years.

European Parliament will also elect 14 vice presidents and other positions this week.

The European Union nominated German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen Tuesday as the first female commission leader.

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