Members of the Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D Group) in the European Parliament on March 20 elected veteran German MEP Udo Bullmann to lead the Socialist campaign for Europe next year.

The Socialist MEPs voted in favour of Bullmann who received 86 votes, 25 more than his rival, Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, who placed second with 61 of the total 151 Social Democrat votes.

Bullmann had already been in charge of the transition after the previous S&D leader, Gianni Pittella, resigned in January to take part in the Italian elections that took place on March 4.

“I am very grateful for being elected as the new President of the S&D Group. I am proud to have received this overwhelming support from my comrades. From this result grows a great responsibility. I also thank my competitor, Kathleen Van Brempt, for her exciting and fair campaign,” said Bullman in an official statement, adding, “In the run-up to the European elections, we must focus on our core strengths of teamwork and solidarity. Only as a united movement, will we be able to meet the challenges of our time.”

Bullman takes the reins at a time when the S&D has suffered a series of electoral debacles in the Member States. He will now be tasked with re-energising and refocusing the Group in the run-up to the European elections in May 2019.

Born in 1956 in Hesse, Bullman studied political science, sociology, public law, and politics. economics, before teaching at the University of Giessen, north of Frankfurt. Bullman has been a member of the European Parliament for nearly 20 years.

In a Tweet posted on March 20, Van Brempt congratulated her opponent for his electoral victory: