What’s next on the European campaign trail?

Andrey Burmakin - Fotolia

What’s next on the European campaign trail?


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The European People’s Party have designated their lead candidate, and so have the Socialists and the Alliance for Conservatives and Reformists. The Liberals have calculated that, in the current uncertain or even revisionary context, it is rather worth playing ball with France’s Emmanuel Macron, who strategically opposes the Spitzenkandidaten process altogether, than nominating a candidate for a position that might as well be filled by the Council as opposed to the parties, or, daresay, the electorate. They are putting forward a Campaign Team instead. Is the excitement already gone, then? Sure, manifesto and campaign launches will follow, but those are expected to be rather predictable: We dare the candidates to debate the size of the proposed EU border force. Should it be 10,000-men-and-women-strong? Or rather 15,000? And why? You can imagine the excitement on the part of the European electorate.

Unfortunately, the fight will once again be fought at the national level, on national issues (in most political families, expect minimal coordination between member parties). It is the nation states we should look at for leadership, or even excitement. And where else than Germany: it might be the CDU party convention in the second weekend of December in Hamburg that might as well prove to be the turning point in next year’s campaign. Come the 8th of December, it will be for the first time since April 2000, a whole 18 years, that Chancellor Merkel will not concomitantly occupy the positions of the head of government and that of the leader of the party. If a figure antagonistic to Merkel’s policies, politics and, most importantly, vision will be elected (two out of the three candidates fit that profile, despite their best efforts not to offend the Chancellor and maintain unity), will the party be speaking with two voices, including on European issues of national interest, such as migration (Health Minister Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz are known to be quite the antithesis of Merkel’s 2015 migration stance, for example)? Which one will the European People’s Party or European political parties heed to? And how will that reflect upon any common element of campaigning, manifesto or direction of the EPP? Exciting times ahead, indeed.

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