Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group’s nomination, finished in second place in the first ballot for European Parliament President with 162 votes. No candidate received an absolute majority of the votes cast and therefore the contest now enters the second round.

“We are doing our job as a parliament – holding the executive to account. It is a good start given that we were only elected a few weeks ago but are clearly autonomous enough to decide our own set up and how we run our business,” said Zahradil after the vote.

“I am committed to being a non-partisan, neutral and impartial President of the European Parliament. All groups and individual members deserve to be treated equally, fairly and with respect – whoever is President of the European Parliament should remember that,” he added.

Commenting on the lack of geographic diversity amongst the nominations for the EU’s top posts, Zahradil highlighted his concern that there is not enough balance amongst the candidates.

“There needs to be more balance across the positions. I am the only candidate from Central or Eastern Europe now running for one of the EU’s top jobs. I am the only candidate from a non-Eurozone country, despite a third of Member States not being part of the single currency. If we want to send a message that the EU respects diversity then I am the only credible candidate left in the running and I’m looking forward to the next round,” concluded Zahradil.