Before the election for the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy said he would run as often as necessary. He should get another chance on Wednesday. But it’s not out of the question for Republicans to drop him entirely.

After several unsuccessful rounds of voting, the US House of Representatives will continue voting on the most powerful post in the American Parliament this Wednesday. Previously, Republican Kevin McCarthy had missed the required majority in the election for the chair of the House of Representatives three times. For the 57-year-old, this is a historic defeat and public exposure. It was now completely open how McCarthy would secure the missing votes in the hours leading up to the next vote on Wednesday afternoon (local time/6:00 p.m. CET). At the same time, names of alternative candidates for the post were already circulating.

After the parliamentary elections in November, the Congress met for the first time on Tuesday in a new constellation. The Republicans took control of the House of Representatives – in the Senate, President Joe Biden’s Democrats still have a narrow majority. The Republicans’ bitter internal struggle for leadership in the House of Representatives has been raging for weeks. It is now the first time in a hundred years that an election has required more than one attempt and that a parliamentary group has not elected its candidate to office in the first round.

McCarthy needed 218 votes to vote. In the first two attempts, 203 fell on him – in the third even only 202. He got fewer votes than his Democratic competitor Hakeem Jeffries. The leader of the Democratic faction was nominated for the post by his party. However, it is considered impossible that he will make the race. He would need Republican votes for that, since the Democrats are the smaller faction in the chamber. Republican lawmakers spoke of “chaos” after the ballot.

It was now open whether the MPs who have been loyal to McCarthy so far will continue to do so. McCarthy had been combative just before the session and said: “I hold the record for the longest speech in the plenary session.” He has no problem setting a record for the most ballots in a vote for the presidency in the House of Representatives. Until the presidency is clarified, nothing works: the Chamber of Congress cannot start its work, not even the new MPs can be sworn in.

Intensive negotiations are likely to be going on behind the scenes. It is also possible that a new candidate will be chosen and set up, which a majority of Republicans may be able to agree on. One name that keeps coming up is Steve Scalise. The Republican is already part of the party leadership. He had lined up behind McCarthy on Tuesday. Elise Stefanik is also mentioned. She was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2014 as the youngest woman at the time and was considered moderate. She is now one of the iron supporters of ex-President Donald Trump.

The right-wing Trump supporters in the Republican faction, however, prefer Congressman Jim Jordan. He was already up for election on Tuesday and coaxed votes from McCarthy. After the debacle in the vote, Jordan emphasized that he himself did not want to become chairman of the House of Representatives. The right wing should not be a viable compromise candidate for many in the party either.

Traditionally, election to the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a formality. But several party colleagues rebelled against McCarthy and had already made it clear before the election that they did not want to vote for McCarthy. He made a number of concessions to his opponents, because in view of the slim majority of Republicans in the chamber, he is dependent on almost every vote.