Weber wins by a landslide to clinch EPP Spitzenkandidat position
Germany’s Manfred Weber has won the EPP group’s Spitzenkandidat nomination, which now puts him in line for European Commission President.
The European People’s Party has selected Manfred Weber as its candidate for Europe’s top job, as the German MEP secured a 79.2 percent lead over rival Alexander Stubb at the party’s congress in Helsinki on Thursday.
After a hard-fought five-week-long fight, Weber racked up 492 of the 619 votes. He thanked his party colleagues, saying “lets start a new chapter for Europe together.”
Stubb, meanwhile, thanked Weber for the race and said he stood 100 percent behind him as EPP Spitzenkandidat.
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The Spitzenkandidaten process was designed as a way of giving EU citizens a say in the appointment of commission president, whereby each parliamentary political group selects a lead candidate, which is where the name Spitzenkandidat comes from. The post then goes to the nominated lead candidate of the European political group that wins the most seats in the European elections.
The process was used for the first time in 2014 when Jean-Claude Juncker became commission president. He was the lead candidate of the EPP group, which won the most seats in the 2014 European elections.
CONGRATULATIONS FLOW IN
EPP group president Joseph Daul praised both Weber and Stubb for their respective campaigns, saying, “now let's join forces to support our candidate as we are always stronger together.”
Group secretary general Tono López-Istúriz said the party was looking forward to working with Weber to win the next European Parliament election, while EPP vice president Françoise Grossetête congratulated Weber on his nomination to lead EPP group efforts to win the European elections in 2019, adding, “proud to be working at his side since 2014.”
“My congratulations to Manfred Weber, but it will be a tough race. The EPP of Mr Orbán and Mr Kurz is no longer a reliable partner for Europe” Udo Bullman
Siegfried Muresan, EPP group spokesman, enthusiastically welcomed the nomination result, saying, “This is the EPP ahead of the European elections. We elected Manfred Weber as candidate for the EU Commission. The EPP is fully united behind him. We will all campaign with him. Looking forward!”
Meanwhile, S&D group president Udo Bullman peppered his felicitations with a note of caution, saying, “My congratulations to Manfred Weber, but it will be a tough race. The EPP of Mr Orbán and Mr Kurz is no longer a reliable partner for Europe.”
From the commission contingent, vice president Valdis Dombrovskis said he was looking forward to working with Weber over the coming months” for a stronger and more inclusive Europe.”
Next on the Spitzenkandidat nominations agenda will be Europe's Greens, whose lead candidate campaign period ends on 17 November. The final election will take place on 24 November during the European Greens Council in Berlin. The Greens' three contenders are Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout, German MEP Ska Keller and Petra De Sutter, who is a member of the Belgian Senate and the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
The Party of European Socialists will hold its own Congress on 7-8 December in Lisbon, but the Spitzenkandidat contest will be a one-horse race after the withdrawal of Maroš Šefčovič, leaving commission vice-president Frans Timmermans as the party's de-facto nominee.