Weber vs Juncker: What was wrong with the old change?

EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER

Jean-Claude Juncker (R), President of the European Commission, speaks with Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber (L), at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 17 April 2018.

Weber vs Juncker: What was wrong with the old change?


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European People’s Party’s Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber has been reminding us on a daily basis the proximity of May’s European elections. The countdown started on the 100-day mark and it has been counting down since, with a clever social media message attached. Nothing out of the ordinary so far for the campaign itself.

It is the text that accompanies the policy-promise graphic turned timer that has caught Kassandra’s attention, though. “76 days left to open a #NewChapter4Europe!” read last Friday’s post, just before Kassandra went to print. That phrase repeats itself every single day, minus the count, which diminishes by one. Kassandra cannot but wonder how this relates to the legacy of the previous EPP Spitzenkandidat and current European Commission President- Jean-Claude Juncker.

If Weber’s ultimate goal is to open a new chapter for Europe, in a very much revisionist fashion, one wonders what was wrong with the most recent chapter that Juncker opened in 2014.

Is Manfred Weber questioning the success or ignoring the achievements of the Juncker Commission? Will he – once the listening tour is over and the speaking tour begins – exalt and build upon the accomplishments of the man he seeks to succeed, or deem Juncker’s mandate a failure that Europe will have to overcome under his guidance? If he chooses not to opt for the former, won’t that torpedo any notion of consistency and continuity within the EPP, undermining his very own party’s chances – a Party he has Chaired in the European Parliament since 2014? Why would the 2019 EPP candidate succeed where the 2014 EPP candidate failed, given they are both the products of the same political family? How could the new chapter be different?

After all, the EPP has indeed been writing the book for the last forty years, as Green hopeful Bas Eickhout told a crowd last week at his party’s campaign launch.

And then, if there will be no continuity, why is the Spitzenkandidat process even relevant if each new one runs on a personal account instead of a party line that respects, showcases and builds upon the past? Such transitions often occur in national politics. But such abrupt delimitations from the past only take place in cases where the previous party leadership has failed, fallen out of favour or both. Kassandra believes none of the above can be applied to Juncker.

But according to the narrative, the EPP, or at least the new Spitzenkandidat feel otherwise.

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