The Norwegian politician Thorbjørn Jagland was today elected Secretary-General of the Council of Europe by its parliamentary assembly, winning 165 votes out of a total of 245. The other candidate was Poland’s former Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who won 80 votes.
Jagland, whose term as Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament expires tomorrow, was Prime Minister of Norway 1996-1997 and Foreign Minister 2000-2001, as well as leader of the Labour Party 1992-2002.
While earlier secretaries-general have come from the ranks of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly it was now a clearly stated wish that the new one should have been prime minister or foreign minister in order to give the Council more weight. This displeased some of the assembly’s members to the extent that they postponed the election, which was to be held in June, to the end of September, apparently hoping that other candidates might emerge. This did however not happen, leaving them with the choice between two candidates who had both been prime minister as well as foreign minister.