Alexander Stubb (left) and Donald Tusk (right) by EPP on Flickr, source, (CC BY 2.0)
As Joseph Daul, the president of European People’s Party, informed during a press conference held on October 17th, the deadline until which nominees for the party’s spitzenkadidat for upcoming European elections could be put forward has passed. Only two candidates applied – Alexander Stubb, who served as Findland’s Prime Minister, and Manfred Weber, the EPP’s Chairperson in the European Parliament.
As the leader reminded, next month, during the EPP Congress in Helsinki, one of these nominees will be announced as the party’s spitzenkandidat.
“We continue to support the Spitzenkandidat Process as a progressive step for European democracy”, the EPP’s leader also stated, calling his party the “pioneers of the process”.
The Spitzenkandidaten Process
The system, also called the “lead candidate system” is a method of appointing the President of the European Commission. According to the Treaties, the Commission’s President is nominated by the European Council, but needs to be accepted by the European Parliament. In the past, the European Council would, by means of horse trading and consensus, agree to present a common candidate to the EP and expect it to accept them.
With time, the Parliament grew to recognise its power and consequently threatened the European Council it would only accept a candidate the biggest party in the European Parliament names as its “lead candidate” during the electoral campaign as the President of the Commission. The system is supposed to increase transparency and strengthen democratic mandate of the Commision’s President. It won support of three major factions of the European Parliament – the EPP, S&D and ALDE, with one faction, ACRE, and “almost a majority” in the European Council criticising it.
The future President?
The EPP has been the largest group in the Parliament for four terms, and, as early predictions indicate, might get the plurality of votes in 2019, too. If the upcoming campaign brings about no significant swings, either Manfred Weber or Alexander Stubb is bound to become the next President of the European Commission.