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European Parliament Socialists elect Schulz as group leader

European Parliament President Martin Schulz has been elected the leader of the body’s Social Democrat bloc. With 191 seats, the group is the European Parliament’s second-largest faction.

On Wednesday, the Social Democrats elected Schulz,

a book vendor from Aachen

who began his political career with Germany's SPD, as their leader, a position he held from 2004 to 2012 before quitting to head the legislative body.

After facing former Luxembourg Prime Minister Sebastian Juncker, the candidate put forward by the parliament's right-wing European People's Party for the post of European Commission president,

Schulz has since endorsed

his former rival for the executive body's top job.

"We cannot draw out a process in which the voters have made their choice," Schulz said on Wednesday. He added, however, that Juncker must address "the EU's great challenges": putting an end to austerity policies and confronting poverty and youth unemployment.

The European People's Party emerged from elections for the parliament held in late May with more than 210 seats. That bloc is led by Schulz's fellow German Manfred Weber, of the Christian Democrats.

mkg/rg (AFP, dpa)

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