Ahead of the elections, the big groups chose “lead candidates” and agreed that the group with the most seats should have their choice catapulted into post to lead the European commission. The idea blindsided EU leaders, who have the legal right to choose the next president, but felt unable to refuse someone with a self-declared democratic mandate.
Confronted with a fait accompli, EU leaders endorsed the EPP’s lead candidate, former Luxembourg president, Jean-Claude Juncker, although several leaders had concerns he was not the best person for the job. The parliament hopes to repeat the feat again, by installing either the EPP’s Weber or the Socialist candidate, former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans.
But that is far from a foregone conclusion. One of the first fights between the next parliament and European council of leaders will be to decide who runs the European commission. In a way, it is a proxy battle over who really runs the EU.