Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche will not support any European political group that backs the so-called Spitzenkandidat or “favored candidate” process, Christophe Castaner, the movement’s chief executive, said on Tuesday.
The Spitzenkandidat process, first established in 2014, awards the European Commission presidency to the party that wins the most seats in the European Parliament election. At a recent European Council, the French president and other leaders voiced their opposition to the process, saying they would reject an automatic mechanism that they believe strips them of the power to pick Europe’s most senior official.
Castaner went further than that, insisting at a rally of LREM supporters in Brussels that his movement “doesn’t wish to engage with anyone who would support the approach of a Spitzenkandidat.” His comments are likely to infuriate a majority of the groups in Parliament, which have recently voted on a proposal to reject any candidate for the European Commission presidency who does not have the official backing of a party political grouping.
The Spitzenkandidat process, Castaner said, is “a real democratic anomaly,” and akin to “asking lawmakers who are elected today but could no longer be elected tomorrow to choose the person who will be responsible tomorrow, as if the president names his government before the election.”
Castaner was in Brussels as part of a European tour that aims to forge a large, “progressive” force for the 2019 European Parliament election.
In June, he partnered with the Spanish liberal Ciudadanos, and the Italian Socialist Party. This week, he will travel to Poland to meet the liberal Civic Platform, which is a member of the conservative European People’s Party.
“We must not just see people but build a project,” Castaner said. The project, he said, includes a certain number of fundamental values and “an action program with five concrete actions, which we know we can put in action if we are a majority.”
He added: “And if we are not a majority we will have the whole duration of a mandate to convince that our ideas are good.”
One of LREM’s ambitions is also to choose “a team” to represent the future leaders of the EU institutions, “because there is not one single European responsibility but there are several,” he said.
Electing the president of the European Parliament, for example, should not be the result of “a political deal” but be up to the public to choose.
Castaner also said he opposed several ideas backed by many EU countries, including one that would see Albania join the bloc, and insisted he would end the French tradition of sending defeated national politicians to the European Parliament.
“We must choose candidates … according to their ability to rally around European issues,” he said.