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European Parliament's presidential candidate Antonio Tajani attends the presentation of the candidates for the election to the office of the President at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


STRASBOURG (Reuters) - Italian conservative Antonio Tajani maintained a strong lead in Tuesday's second round of voting for speaker of the European Parliament following a coalition deal with the liberals, official returns showed.

Tajani won 287 of the 691 votes cast, keeping his lead over centre-left candidate and fellow Italian Gianni Pittella who had 200. Four other candidates had scores between 42 and 66.

If no candidate in the 751-seat chamber has a majority of votes cast after another ballot the top two will contest a decisive fourth round on Tuesday evening.

Pittella's score was more than his S&D party's 189 seats while Tajani's was just above the combination of his EPP's 217 seats plus the 68 of the centrist ALDE group, whose leader Guy Verhofstadt pulled out at the last minute and threw his support behind Tajani in a coalition against eurosceptics.

Full voting result was:

Candidate Party Second round vote

Antonio Tajani EPP (centre-right) 287

Gianni Pittella S&D (centre-left) 200

Helga Stevens ECR (right) 66

Jean Lambert Greens 51

Eleonora Forenza GUE (far-left) 42

Laurentiu Rebega ENF (far-right) 45


(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)