Roberta Metsola beat out two other candidates for the position -- Alice Bah Kuhnke of Sweden, who placed second in the election, and Sira Rego of Spain. Photo courtesy Roberta Metsola/Twitter
Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Maltese lawmaker Roberta Metsola was elected in a landslide on Tuesday to become president of the European Parliament, following the death last week of David Sassoli.
Metsola, who turned 43 Tuesday, won 458 of the 616 votes cast for the position, which oversees the European Union's legislative body and makes budgetary decisions for the bloc.
The third woman and the youngest person to be elected to the post, Metsola succeeds Sassoli after he died in an Italian hospital last week. He'd already been scheduled to step down this week, however.
Metsola has been a member of European Parliament since 2013 and vice president since 2020. She'd recently filled in for Sassoli while he was away due to illness. He died a week ago Tuesday.
A member of Malta's center-right European People's Party, she is the first woman to hold the post of president in 20 years and the first person from Malta ever to ascend to the position.
"You can count on me to represent the European values our House stands for," Metsola said in a tweet.
"I am humbled by the responsibility entrusted to me today."
The mother of four has drawn some criticism for taking an anti-abortion stance, which is widely-held among the Maltese public. The country is the only EU member where abortion is entirely illegal.
After her election, Metsola said she will continue to advocate for European Parliament's pro-abortion stance.
The Maltese lawmaker beat out two other candidates for the position -- Alice Bah Kuhnke of Sweden, who placed second in the election, and Sira Rego of Spain.