Lagarde wins EU lawmakers' approval to lead ECB

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - The European Parliament backed Christine Lagarde on Tuesday as the next president of the European Central Bank, paving the way for her to become the first woman to hold the post.

Lawmakers voted 394 in favor, 206 against and with 49 abstentions in the parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg.

“Christine Lagarde is an excellent choice and she has my full support,” Ludek Niedermayer, a Czech center-right lawmaker, told a plenary debate before the vote.

Lagarde was not present despite an invitation to attend.

“Christine Lagarde is well positioned to stress the importance of other (economic) policies, not just monetary policy,” Niedermayer said.

A shrewd negotiator who has run the International Monetary Fund but has little monetary policy experience, Lagarde was selected in July by EU leaders to replace Mario Draghi from Nov. 1 at the helm of the bloc’s most powerful financial institution.

A former antitrust lawyer, the divorced mother of two became French finance minister in 2007, then took over at the IMF when a sex scandal forced her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn to quit.

EU leaders will formalize her appointment at a regular summit in mid October for an eight-year term.

Luxemburger Yves Mersch was also voted in by the parliament to become the deputy chief of the ECB’s supervision arm, with 379 votes in favor, 230 against and 69 abstentions.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Mark Potter