After the ultra-right 'starting shot', next year's elections (in May) for the European Parliament are 'heating up'. Since 2004, the European Commission has been led by the European People's Party, first with Portuguese Barroso and then with Luxembourger Jean-Claude Juncker, but the Socialists – who had a solid defeat with German Mario Schulz – 'President of Parliament before being defeated in his own country by Angela Merkel – want to return to lead that structure.
Italian Prodi Romano was the last representative of the Socialist ranks to win the presidency of the European Commission, and the group now wants to organize a process of internal primary elections in December to decide who will be his candidate to replace Mr Juncker – who has already said he does not is a candidate to stay in place.
The current first Vice-President of the Commission, the Dutchman Frans Timmermans, seems to have the support of the great national delegations of the Socialists, with Germany, through the SPD (the party of Schulz) and the Spanish PSOE at the head. But there is already a competitor: the Vice-President of the Commission, the Slovakian Maros Sefcovic, who says he has the support of nine national delegations.
The problem is that both will be elected only if their political family (the European Socialist Party) wins the May elections and this, according to the most recent polls, is far from the most likely horizon, since opinion indicate that socialist parties will lose positions in such important countries as Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
The two socialist candidates could not be more different and represent in some way the antagonisms between the traditional countries and the new enlargement countries – with very different political agendas, priorities and attitudes.
Timmermans (Maastricht, 1961, married and with four children) is a recognized multilingual (speaks fluently English, French, German, Italian and Russian), he has publicly announced his willingness to lead the Commission in Dutch and in his constituency in Heerlen .
"I believe in Europe because, in a world that changes so rapidly, we need a response of magnitude that states can not give at the merely individual level," he said this week, quoted by several newspapers. The Dutch warned of the risk that the next European generations will grow up in a world where the barriers once again mark the horizon – and that seems to be the motto and motivation of the Dutch: that is what makes him run.
Sefcovic (Bratislava 1966, married with three children) announced his intention to run for almost a month and did so on the premises of the European Parliament. He explained that one of his biggest concerns is that Europe "stop talking about the east and west, the north and the south, to re-launch the engine of integration."
The race is therefore set to begin, but for now the European People's Party is already the strongest candidate for eternity at the head of the Commission, with two potential prospects interested in inheriting Juncker's chair: German MEP Manfred Weber and former Finnish Prime Minister Alex Stubb.