STRASBOURG, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Electoral campaigns have been underway in Strasbourg on Monday evening as the European Parliament, meeting for its first plenary session of the new year, prepares to vote Tuesday for a new president.
As of Monday evening, seven Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have confirmed their candidacies to replace outgoing President Martin Schulz.
It included Eleonora Forenza, European United Left-Nordic Green Left Group (Italy), Jean Lambert, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Britain), Gianni Pittella, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group (Italy).
Among the candidates there were also Laurentiu Rebega, Europe of Nations and Freedom Group (Romania),
Helga Stevens, European Conservatives and Reformists Group (Belgium), Antonio Tajani, European People's Party Group (Italy),and Guy Verhofstadt, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (Belgium).
Announcing the presidential hopefuls on Monday evening, President Schulz told the plenary that the procedure would begin at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday with three-minute presentations from each candidate, even though there will be no debate.
In a show of prudence, he encouraged MEPs to bring their parliamentary identification cards, so as to avoid conflicts if all 751 members decided to attend the vote.
A candidate would be able to win in the first round of voting, if he or she earns an absolute majority of the votes (50 percent+1), with blank or spoiled ballots not counted.
Second and third voting rounds can be conducted in the case of no outright winner, with the same or new candidates being introduced. If no winner has been selected, a fourth round will elect a president by simple majority from the two candidates who had the highest number of votes in the third round. In the case of an even tie, the older candidate will win.
The two largest political groups in the European Parliament are the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group, President Schulz's colleagues, with 189 MEPs, and the European People's Party Group, with 217 MEPs, making it seem likely that either the Socialist Gianni Pittella or Conservative Antonio Tajani will have the strongest chances of winning.
Right-wing groups have a slight advantage over left-wing groups in the parliament, with 13 more MEPs potentially voting in Tuesday's election. Non-attached MEPs, however, numbering 18, could have a deciding outcome in the vote.
In an effort to reach younger generations of Europeans, the parliament will stream the election live on Facebook, as well as broadcast behind the scenes footage on Snapchat, and offer additional live information on Twitter.
The new president will have difficult shoes to fill, with Schulz having earned a reputation for bringing increased prominence and visibility to the European Parliament.
Schulz announced in November that he would not stand for reelection in order to turn to national politics, running for office in his native Germany.
Other challenges that the new president will face include that the European Parliament and other European Union bodies currently divided on a wide range of pressing issues, such as internal and external security, economic crisis, migration, Brexit, and the dual threat of terrorism and radicalization.
The European president serves a 2.5-year term and can be reelected, while MEPs serve five year terms. This year's election takes place in the parliamentary mid-term.
In addition to Tuesday's presidential vote, 14 vice-presidents and five quaestors will be elected by secret electronic ballots on Wednesday.