BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party will support Manfred Weber in his bid to become the lead candidate for the European People’s Party in next year’s European Parliament election, the Christian Democratic Union said Monday.
“We are looking forward to the mutual election campaign with Manfred Weber,” the CDU’s general secretary and close Merkel ally, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said at a press conference, adding that “of course, combined with this [candidacy] for the EPP is the aspiration for the Commission’s presidency … That is no question.”
“He has the best qualifications,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said, referring to Weber’s current position as EPP leader in the European Parliament.
She also described Weber, a 46-year-old Bavarian, as a “bridge-builder” whose qualifications are “especially needed in times of polarizing discussions in Europe.”
[email protected]_A_K_K_: Präsidium und Bundesvorstand der #CDU haben einstimmig beschlossen, die Bewerbung von @ManfredWeber für die Spitzenkandidatur der Europäischen Volkspartei bei den Wahlen zum Europäischen Parlament zu unterstützen. pic.twitter.com/fUkO3F2cvE
— CDU Deutschlands (@CDU) September 10, 2018
Merkel has already given Weber her backing.
The CDU’s official support puts Weber in pole position to become the pan-European center-right grouping’s Spitzenkandidat, but he still faces major obstacles if he is to become the next Commission president. He still needs to secure the EPP’s nomination at a party congress in November, but leaders of EU governments have said that legally they cannot be bound to the Spitzenkandidat system, so there is no guarantee he will become Commission chief even if the EPP comes first in next May’s election.