For the first time in the EU, you will hear, we have a broad choice. We can vote for a specific candidate for the post of the European Commission president, not only for members of the European Parliament. The candidates of the biggest political families in Europe were selected in the American style – some more democratically (via primaries), others via the ordinary party procedure. Whatever the manner, they are already touring European cities and capitals competing for our vote. They even call their campaign with the same term as in the US – campaign trail. The culmination will be on May 15th when the five candidates will appear together in a debate which will be broadcast live within the Eurovision network and online. To sum up, European democracy in action. There is no doubt that it is more than exciting that, finally, the EU will come to us instead of us constantly going to the EU. The European political parties will fight for our vote, they will present us their ideas, plans, visions about the future of the Union not from the distant Brussels, but they will come in our capitals and cities. They will try to balance between nationalists, austerians, spenders, Germans, Greeks, the north and the south, the east and the west, between Euro-Atlanticists and pro-Russian forces. But there is a problem. In these elections, for the first time, the clash between the national and European political interest will be especially strong because the national parties make calculations of their own for these elections, while the candidates at EU level threaten to mess them up. And this is especially evident in the fact that there are two parallel elections for the post of European Commission president going on. One is the democratic one that I mentioned above and the other is the well known behind-the-scenes way in which the highest European posts are always bargained.
On the formal list you will see the candidate of the biggest political family in the EP at the moment – the European People’s Party – Jean-Claude Juncker, former prime minister of Luxembourg and former president of the Eurogroup, elected at the EPP’s congress in Dublin this spring. The family of the Social-Democratic parties in the EU nominated another very strong person – Martin Schulz (Germany), the European Parliament president. The Liberals propose the famous eurofederalist and passionate proponent of the idea for United States of Europe, former premier of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt. The Greens have selected their candidates via the most modern democratic traditions – via primaries. Their candidate is Ska Keller (Germany). And the European Left nominated the famous Greek anarchist, leader of the Syriza movement in Greece Alexis Tsipras.
On the informal list, for which secret negotiations are taking place between the heads of governments, are the names of Finland’s Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen who has already announced his readiness to give away Finnish politics for the sake of the European political stage. He is from a party that is a member of the EPP. Beside him is mentioned the name of Denmark’s Premier Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is from the family of the Social-Democrats and enjoys the support of British Prime Minister David Cameron for being married to the son of the former leader of the Labour party and former European commissioner Neil Kinnock. Among the other names on the informal list is that of International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who was a minister of finance of Sarkozy’s government. Also circulating is the name of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. The list is not final and from time to time in it emerges the name of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. On it was also the name of Polish Premier Donald Tusk.