After a plenary session which saw Maltese MEP and lawyer Roberta Metsola elected president of the European Parliament (EP) winning a landslide vote of 74%, politicians and organisations from all sides of the ideological spectrum and all corners of the world reacted positively.
Metsola, who became the youngest parliamentarian ever to be elected EP President, elicited congratulations and support from much of Malta’s political class, including the Labour government, who had previously declared her and fellow opposition MEP David Casa “traitors” for lobbying for a public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In particular, Metsola had evoked the government’s anger when she had famously snubbed a handshake with prime minister Joseph Muscat, in the aftermath of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, shortly before the latter’s resignation in disgrace.
MEP David Casa spoke of today as “one that would never be forgotten”, expressing his belief that every Maltese person is proud of the fact that she will be presiding over the European Parliament for the next two and a half years.
A proud and emotional Bernard Grech, the Opposition Leader, who was present in Strasbourg for the occasion, expressed pride at Metsola’s successful bid for the EP’s top seat, maintaining that her election gives Maltese people hope that “when one fights for what is right, it is possible to come out a victor”.
Secretary-general of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament and former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil also offered his congratulations. “The door is open for you, no matter who you are or where you come from: that’s the DNA of the #EPP. And right on her 43rd birthday, armed with just her youth and brilliance, Roberta Metsola walked straight through.”
One of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sons, Andrew, spoke of how Metsola had supported the campaign for justice for his mother, and how such actions had contributed to making her the youngest president in the European Parliament’s history, adding that “integrity matters”.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission also welcomed Metsola’s election, praising her for her “hard work and determination”, describing her as an “inspiration to us all”, especially in being only the third ever woman president of the EP.
As the 3rd woman to head this noble house, your hard work & determination are an inspiration to us all.
We’ll work closely together for the EU‘s recovery and a green, digital & bright European future. pic.twitter.com/41G1anxJI6
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) January 18, 2022
The President of Malta also tweeted that her election is “a very important achievement for our country, which has proved that if united, our size and geography pose no obstacle to vision and commitment”.
Nello Scavo, the renowned Avvenire journalist and anti-corruption activist, expressed his satisfaction at Metsola’s election, referring to her as a “Maltese person who was not afraid of denouncing the plot against Daphne Caruana Galizia and had the courage to stand beside crimes against human rights in the Mediterranean”.
Fellow candidates in the race for the European Parliament’s presidency, Alice Bah Kuhnke for the European Green Party and Sira Rego for the Socialists, also congratulated Metsola for her election. Yet while both wished Metsola the best of luck with her new role, they expressed concerns over what they called the conservative streak that Metsola has espoused in her politics, highlighting her anti-abortion stance.
Large numbers of Maltese people, from all walks of life, have also taken to social media to congratulate Metsola.