The German term Spitzenkandidat (i.e. Lead candidate) was first used in 2014 European elections. What does it mean? Who will be the future president of the Commission?
The Spitzenkadidat process, its strengths and weaknesses
Through years, the European Parliament (EP) has used all possible means to increase its influence in the European structure. Starting from a consultative body, it later gained an important role in the institutional framework. Initially, the choice of the Commission’s Presidency was a unique prerogative of the European Council, or more precisely of a limited number of the most influential prime Ministers or head of states who decide who should be proposed as President of the Commission. However, the EP has always had a procedure to question and to seek commitments. The Spitzenkadidat process came later, in 2014: from that moment, the EP has been elected the President of the Commission on a proposal from the European Council, taking into account the elections and after having held the appropriate consultations. Even if it has some critical weakness, as the linguistic diversity and the poor link between the Lead candidate and the national parties Leader, it surely has strengthened the role of the EP. It has, indeed, created new channels of communication between voters and candidates, reduced the influence of national parties, and succeeded in delivering a candidate to the Commission presidency that otherwise might not have been chosen.
In the previous articles, we have already analysed the Candidates of the Party of European Socialist and European People’s Party, we will now focus on the others.
The Alliance of Conservative and Reformists (ACRE) has nominated as Leading candidate Jan Zahradil, Czech MEP and President of ACRE. As representative of ACRE, he supports a multi-speed EU in charge of the protection of external borders, single market, common commercial policies and energy security. However, according to him, subjects as migration, taxes and currency should remain under the competence of Member States. If he is elected, he would become the first President from Eastern and Central Europe.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) has presented a team of seven candidates: Guy Verhofstadt (President of the ALDE group, MEP and former Prime Minister of Belgium), Margrethe Vestager (Commissioner for Competition, previous Danish Minister for Economy and Interior), Nicola Beer (national Spitzenkandidat of ALDE party in Germany FDP), Katalin Cseh (national Spitzenkandidat of ALDE party in Hungary Momentum), Luis Garicano (Vice President of the ALDE Party), Emma Bonino (Former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs), Violeta Bulc (Commissioner for Transport, former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia). The main focus of the ALDE Party is to build a federal Europe based on the defence of fundamental rights and liberal democracy, in order to renew the European identity.
The European Green Party (EGP) will be represented by Ska Keller and Bas Eickhout. Ska Keller is the Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament in which she was elected as a Member in 2009. She also was the Lead candidate in the 2014 European elections. Her focus lies on migration and refugee rights, International Trade and the EU’s relationship with Turkey. Bas Eickhout is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. During his career, he was a co-author of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change report on climate change, which received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
The European Left (EL) had chosen in January 2019 its Candidate: Nico Cuè and Violeta Tomic, whom both have a path linked to Labour Rights. Due to their history, indeed, the main focuses of the two candidates will be on climate change, social issues and redistribution of wealth.
The Europe for Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) and the Movement for a European of Nations and Freedom (MENF) have not presented any Candidate for the Presidency.
Who will sit on the European throne? Elections are here.