By Brian Johnson - 15th July 2009
The election of parliament's 14 vice-presidents ended in drama, with Polish deputy and official European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) candidate Michal Kaminski losing out to Tory rebel Edward McMillan-Scott.
Kaminski's defeat, late on Tuesday, threw the eurosceptic group into turmoil, forcing prospective leader, UK conservative deputy Timothy Kirkhope, to hastily agree to stand aside and hand over the reins of the newly formed grouping to the Pole, who is a close aide to Warsaw's president Lech Kaczynski.
Relinquishing the leadership position to Kaminski was enough to appease the furious Polish contingent and to avert the collapse of the group.
McMillan-Scott, who has been critical of UK Tory leader David Cameron's decision to leave parliament's centre right EPP group to link up with right wing deputies, such as Poland's PiS party stood as an independent in the vice-presidency race, against the wishes of his party.
The turmoil within the ECR, on its first official day as a parliament group, is an embarrassing setback for UK Tory leader David Cameron. He had expected to have a high profile UK Conservative leading his flagship eurosceptic group.
Instead the alliance's public face will be a Polish deputy from a party that has been heavily criticised for its anti-gay position.
McMillan-Scott's victory also leaves the ECR as the only mainstream political grouping in the parliament without a vice-president.
One benefactor of Kaminski's defeat was controversial ALDE deputy Silvana Koch-Mehrin who managed to pull off an 11th hour victory over Kaminski to secure parliament's last remaining vice-president post.
The German deputy has a history of run-ins with parliament deputies and the media, and is deeply unpopular with large sections of the assembly.
She was heavily criticised over comments made last year that male MEPs only wanted to keep the Strasbourg plenary seat because it was easier to procure prostitutes in the Alsatian city.
However, with help from the parliament's Greens in the third and final round of voting, she pipped Kaminski for the final vice-presidency position by 12 votes.
Commenting on her unexpected victory, Koch-Mehrin told this website that she was "happy to be elected" and that "common sense had prevailed in the end".
"I'm also happy I'm not part of that [Kaminski's] group. It's not a very auspicious start for them," she added.
The full list of parliament vice-presidents:
Giovanni Pittella (S&D, IT)
Rodi Kratsa-Tsagarapoulou (EPP, EL)
Stavros Lambrinidis (S&D, EL)
Miguel Ángel Martìnez Martìnez (S&D, ES)
Àlejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP, ES)
Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (S&D, DE)
Libor Roucek (S&D, CZ)
Isabelle Durant (Greens/EFA, BE)
Roberta Angelilli (EPP, IT)
Diana Wallis (ALDE, UK)
Pàl Schmitt (EPP, HU)
Edward McMillan-Scott (ECR, UK)
Rainer Wieland (EPP, DE)
Silvana Koch-Mehrin (ALDE, DE)