The European Parliament elected conservative Maltese lawmaker Roberta Metsola as its president on Tuesday, making her the EU assembly's first woman president in 20 years.
Metsola succeeded Italian socialist David Sassoli in the mostly ceremonial role presiding over the 705-member parliament of the European Union, after he died this month at the age of 65.
Sassoli had in any case been due to step down this week as part of a power-sharing deal under which parliament's socialist group would step aside halfway through the assembly's five-year term for a candidate from Metsola's centre-right European People's Party (EPP) grouping.
"It's about time that the European Parliament is led by a woman," Metsola, 42, said in a campaign message on Twitter, calling for the assembly to connect with EU citizens beyond the "bubbles" of Brussels and Strasbourg where it meets.
The parliament, which adopts and amends legislative proposals and decides on the EU budget, has had only two female presidents, Simone Veil and most recently Nicole Fontaine, both French, since it became a directly elected assembly in 1979.
Along with Metsola, three other members of parliament had expressed an interest in the presidency ahead of the deadline for nominations at 5pm (1600 GMT) on Monday.
They were Sweden's Alice Bah Kuhnke of the assembly's Greens-European Free Alliance group, Poland's Kosma Zlotowski of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Sira Rego of Spain, a member of the Left group.
A member of the European Parliament since 2013, Metsola campaigned as a student for Malta to become a member of the EU.
A Mediterranean archipelago with a population of just over 500,000, Malta became the EU's smallest member state when it joined the bloc in 2004.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)