MEP Markus Ferber will be the top candidate from Germany's conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) in the upcoming European elections. Ahead of a similar announcement expected in February by its larger sister party, the Christian Democrats, CSU leaders rallied around a call for "more Bavaria in Europe", EURACTIV Germany reports.
At a party conference in Munich on Saturday (25 January), Markus Ferber received 98.3% of delegate votes from the Bavarian CSU, a small party closely aligned with Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU).
At the event, CSU party leader Horst Seehofer spoke of a good foundation for his party in the coming 2014 election year.
The CSU could win up to 50% of votes in Bavaria for the upcoming European elections, according to a survey conducted by Bavarian television broadcaster BR.
“This approval speaks well for our objectives and our people,” Seehofer said.
A few weeks ago the party stirred controversy in Germany by advocating tighter regulation against “poverty immigration” from the EU’s poorer member states. It was a bold move from the smaller conservative party, which faced opposition from both larger coalition partners in the CDU and the Social Democrats.
“We, as the CSU, are a party of Europe. The European idea benefits the people,” he said. But the excessive European bureaucracy, that gets mixed up in all the trivialities at a local scale, has moved people, the CSU leader said.
“And there, they are depending on us to roll things back.”
Ferber, the CSU’s new top candidate, emphasised that the European elections were about determining which direction Europe would take in the future. “We want a Europe that is big on big issues but lean on small issues.”
The CSU stands for a strong Europe of the regions; one that is aware of its Christian roots and knows its boundaries – both geographically and politically, Ferber said.
Too many commissioners in Brussels
If European commissioners have time to deal with issues like olive oil dispensers or vacuum cleaners, “then apparently we have too many of them”, said Ferber.
“We want a considerable reduction in the number of commissioners. It is not only about the leadership, it also concerns the entire administrative apparatus,” the CSU candidate said.
Secretary General of the CSU Andreas Scheuer said the CSU was the only party that could represent Bavarian interests on all levels.
“The European elections are about showing how strong Bavaria is in Europe.” There is only one alternative that stands between enthusiasm and rejection of Europe, and that is the CSU,” Scheuer said.
“We are convinced Europeans, that’s why we want a better Europe with a sense of reason and proportion. We want as much Bavaria in Europe as possible,” the secretary general emphasised.
British-German candidate from the CDU
Meanwhile, Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats are expected to nominate their top candidate, the former prime minister of Lower Saxony David McAllister, at an executive meeting in early February.
McAllister (43), a British-German dual-citizen, is the first politician with two nationalities to become prime minister in one of Germany’s Länder. After failing to win re-election in Lower Saxony’s regional race for prime minister last year, McAllister accepted the CDU’s nomination to be its top candidate in the upcoming 2014 elections.
The federal state of Bavaria is geographically the largest of Germany's 16 Länder regions and the second-largest according to population. While the CDU is represented in the remaining 15 states, the CSU represents its larger sister party's Christian democratic and conservative political positions in the Bavaria, often with a more conservative twist. Aside from a brief period in the 1950s, the CSU party has led the Bavarian state government since its creation in 1946.
During the European Parliament elections in May, each member state has the right to elect a fixed number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) based on population.
Elections are contested by national political parties but once MEPs are elected, most opt to become part of transnational political groups. Most national parties are affiliated with a Europe-wide political family so one of the big questions on election night is which of these European groupings will exert greater influence on the decisions taken in the next legislative term.
See more on European Parliament elections here.
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