Metsola would succeed Italian socialist David Sassoli in the mostly ceremonial role of presiding over the 705-member parliament of the European Union.
Sassoli died on January 11 at the age of 65.
He had been due to step down this week as part of a power-sharing deal under which parliament’s socialist group would step aside halfway through the assembly’s five-year term for a candidate from Metsola’s centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) grouping.
“It’s about time that the European Parliament is led by a woman,” Metsola said in a campaign message on Twitter, calling for the assembly to connect with EU citizens beyond the “bubbles” of Brussels and Strasbourg where it meets.
Her expected win caps off a campaign where she pitched herself as a young but experienced female leader who can inspire and build consensus across Europe’s fractious political divides.
The parliament, which adopts and amends legislative proposals and decides on the EU budget, has had only two female presidents, Simone Veil and most recently Nicole Fontaine, both French, since it became a directly elected assembly in 1979.