Antonio Tajani (C) from the European People

Italian conservative Antonio Tajani has been elected the new president of the European Parliament, BBC reports.

Mr Tajani, 63, is a former spokesman for Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and an ex-European commissioner.

He defeated another Italian, Gianni Pitella, and will take over from Germany's Martin Schulz.

The European Parliament has the power to block or amend EU laws, and will have the final say on whether to approve a Brexit deal with the UK.

Mr Tajani secured 351 votes, against 282 for Mr Pittella, a socialist. The contest ran to the maximum four rounds.

Mr Tajani's European People's Party (EPP) group benefited from a new coalition with the parliament's liberals, the ALDE, who hope to curb the influence of anti-EU populists.

ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt withdrew his candidacy at the last minute, paving the way for Mr Tajani's victory.

The EPP candidate dedicated his win to those who died in August's earthquake in central Italy, and all victims of terror attacks.

"We must devote our attention to all those who are in tough living conditions," he said in a short speech.

The election of Mr Tajani puts the centre-right in charge of the three main EU institutions - the European Commission, Council and Parliament.

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