The race in the European elections has seen a paradigm shift for the future of the elections, with the two front runners warning the current President of the EU, Herman Von Rompuy. that simply appointing a President by diplomatic nomination was ‘dead in the water’. Van Rompuy recently attempted to dismiss the efforts of the main parties to submit a candidate for the European elections in a bid to win the top seat at the Commission.
President Van Rompuy’s statements this weekend elecited scathing comments from Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker, both of whom rounded on the incumbent President, saying that the days of avoiding voter choice were over because the next President of the EU Commission will need a firm majority in the next Parliamentary council. Van Rompuy had commented that “The difference between the Parliament and those who really decide is very clear to citizens.”
Juncker, previously the Luxembourg Prime Minister, who is campaigning for the centre-right European People’s Party, told Süddeutsche Zeitung. “the democratic toothpaste is out of the tube with the election of a lead candidate. The old days, when a Commission president was elected by diplomats in backrooms, are finally over,”
Article 17.7, TEU of the Lisbon Treaty was instrumental in bringing about this small, but significant step towards a more robust democracy, and although the next President of the European Union will be nominated by EU leaders, the candidates will have to submit themselves to the European Parliament for an election by their peers.
The Presidential candidate for the Socialists and Democrats, Martin Schulz, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. that Mr Van Rompuy’s position reflected his “own opinion, based on his interpretation, to fit his job description. Many in the European Council see this issue differently. Most importantly, the European voters see this differently.”
The five candidates for the job are:
- Guy Verhofstadt: Belgian liberal (ALDE)
- José Bové and Ska Keller: Franco-German Green Party joint-candidacy
- Alexis Tsipras: Greek Leftist (GUE-NGL)
- Martin Schulz: German Socialists and Democrats
- Jean-Claude Juncker: Luxembourg centre-right European People’s Party
All are currently touring EU member states, supporting national parties in their bid to get voters to the polls on 22-25 May.
“Mr Schulz and I are touring the whole of Europe, to make clear the stakes of the elections,” Juncker said “Every citizen can co-decide the direction of Europe for the next five years.”
There is an informal agreement among the parties that the one that wins the most seats can put forward its candidate for the EU Executive.
The latest opinion polls put Juncker’s EPP in the lead with 222 seats and the socialists with 209 seats. The liberal ALDE party is credited with around 60 seats, the far-left GUE-NGL around 50 seats and the Greens and Conservatives with about 40 seats each.