Greens select four candidates to run in primaries ahead of 2014 elections

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Four Green MEPs are entering the race for two top positions in the EU elections campaign ahead of the vote in May 2014. 

On Thursday (7 November), the European Green Party (EGP) announced the four contenders who will take part in the primaries: French MEP and syndicalist José Bové; Italian MEP and co-chair of the European Green Party Monica Frassoni; German MEP and co-chair of the political group in the European Parliament Rebecca Harms; and German MEP Ska Keller.

Bové is arguably the most well-known among the contenders, but all contenders have a strong support in their home countries, party sources said. Ska Keller carries the nomination of the Federation of Young European Greens and has a profile that appeals to young participants in the online vote.

The candidates had to seek a nomination from a member organisation of the European Greens, as well as support of at least four member parties, to participate in the upcoming online vote. Frassoni got the support of five member parties, Harms and Keller from seven and José Bové secured the highest support with eight endorsements.

The EGP requires the two candidates to come from different national member parties. This rules out having Rebecca Harms and Ska Keller running as a tandem. Although the Greens traditionally have a man and a woman sharing lead positions, this is not a requirement, and the duo to lead the campaign could very well be two women.

Online vote opens on Sunday

The Greens are gathering in Brussels this weekend to sketch out their elections campaign. On Saturday (9 November), party members will take first steps to shape the common manifesto for the election campaign, which is to be finalized in the coming months and adopted at the Greens’ electoral convention on 21-23 February.

Sunday (10 November), the party launches the online vote. Europeans “who share the Greens’ values” can cast their ballot online – after ticking a box saying they endorse such values. The online poll will run until 28 January 2014, and the tandem to lead the campaign will be announced soon after.

The European Greens revealed their online ‘open primaries’ in September, boasting it was the only party to organize a real primary race to designate its candidate for the seat of the next European Commission president: “No party has ever engaged in this kinds of process at a European level,” EGP co-chair Reinhard Bütikofer (DE) said at the time.

All parties are in the process of designating their candidate for the post, in a move that is hoped to open up the selection process for Barroso’s successor. The next president will be nominated by the EU leaders, “taking into account” the election results and after consultation with Parliament. MEPs will have the last say in a plenary vote.

>> Read: EU parties line up for Brussels top job nomination

This process is a novelty under the Lisbon Treaty, which hopes to boost turnout by making the elections more political. But top EU leaders have criticized the parties’ initiative. German chancellor Angela Merkel said “many decisions and considerations” will determine the allocation of top jobs, while Council president Herman Van Rompuy has repeatedly said the parties’ campaigns create “false expectations”. 

The European elections will be held in all EU countries in May 2014. The Lisbon Treaty states that the European Parliament shall elect the Commission president on the basis of a proposal made by the European Council, taking into account the European elections (Article 17, Paragraph 7 of the TEU). This will apply for the first time in the 2014 elections.

European Parliament, parties and many others have pushed for these parties to nominate their front-runners in the election campaigns. This would make the European elections a de facto race for the Commission president seat, would politicise the campaigns and could increase voter turnout, they say.

Read more in our LinksDossier.

  • 9 Nov.: First draft of manifesto discussed at congress in Brussels
  • 10 Nov.: Opening of online voting website
  • 28 Jan. 2014: Online voting closes
  • Febr. 2014: Announcement of duo of frontrunners at the start of the month
  • 21-23 Febr. 2014: Electoral congress, adopting the common manifesto

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