EU elections 2019: is Weber the man for the job?
The EPP has chosen German CSU politician Manfred Weber as its lead candidate for the European elections. With this decision Weber edged out the Finn Alexander Stubb and stands a good chance of becoming the next EU Commission president. While some see Weber as spearheading the EU's fight against populism, others fear his appointment will mean the end of the EU as we know it.
The only chance to beat the populists
Only politicians like Weber can save Europe now, Rzeczpospolita comments:
“The EPP's strategy is of crucial importance because it is the last of the big groups in the European Parliament that can defend the idea of European integration against Eurosceptics and populists in next May's elections. The targeted alliance between the Liberals and Emmanuel Macron's movement is wobbling and all over Europe things look bad for the Socialists. The opponents of Orbán and Kaczyński and their isolation policy are the conservative politicians of the young generation.”
Departure from Merkel's heritage
NRC Handelsblad's EU correspondent René Moerland explains why the European Christian Democrats will shift to the right in future:
“Weber wants to be a bridge-builder in Europe just like Merkel, he says. But he is more conservative than she is. He talks less about the European Union as a force for peace and wants to focus more on brining Europe closer to the people. ... You won't hear much about the European Union as a response to Europe's warring past from Weber. The new generation is seeking a centre-right answer to the rise of the nationalist parties. In particular it wants to settle up with Merkel's legacy and her 'We can do it' slogan in the refugee crisis.”
This could be the last EU Commission president
Dennik N is less than enthusiastic about Weber's election as candidate:
“Weber is a symbol of the EPP's hypocrisy regarding Viktor Orbán. He has criticised Hungary and warned that populists and extremists pose a threat to the EU from the inside. This week, however, he stressed that Fidesz will remain in the EPP. Basically that amounts to bolstering other populists, such as the extremist governments in Poland and Italy. Weber is a symbol of this incompetence and cowardice. His potential election to head of the EU Commission could mean that he will be the last person to occupy this post. If there's no more EU, there won't be any need for an EU Commission.”
Unlike the wannabe revolutionaries from the far right and left who are casting the EU elections as decisive for the fate of the EU, the EPP and Social Democrats have remained with their feet firmly on the ground, the Wiener Zeitung writes in delight:
“In view of the many fantasy projects it is reassuring to see that at least the threatened political centre is taking a staid approach to the EU elections. The EPP and the Party of European Socialists have nominated the Bavarian Manfred Weber and Dutchman Frans Timmermans as their lead candidates. We must hope that the leader of the EPP in the European Parliament and the vice-president of the EU Commission will face the upcoming confrontation with the necessary toughness and a little less false pathos. There is, however, a real danger that the desire for downfall has become a fixed component of all political endeavours.”