Spain gears up for European election battle

Miguel Arias Cañete

Miguel Arias Cañete, candidate for Commissioner. [EURACTIV Spain]

Spain’s ruling party, the Partido Popular (PP), has finally published its candidates list for the European elections. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Almost half of the candidates from PP (23 of Spain’s 54) are currently MEPs. The Spanish Socialists, for its part, have chosen a formula which alternates between men and women, preferring “renewal and rejuvenation”. Thus, 60% of the Socialists candidates are new, and their age is lower compared to the median of 2009 (48 versus 56).

The Partido Popular has decided to refresh only three of the first ten candidates on its list. Number one is for the Minister of Agriculture, Miguel Arias Cañete, who is likely to be the Commissioner. Asked about this issue, Cañete says that his objective is “to win the candidacy”, although afterwards, he can “aspire to anything”.

Esteban González Pons is the second candidate of the PP and, predictably, the Head of the Spanish Popular delegation, if Arias Cañete goes to the European Commission. Jaime Mayor Oreja, the current Head of the list (for two terms in a row), decided to leave his European career for the moment, although his future position in Spain is still a mystery.

The following positions in the PP’s list are filled by current MEPs, including  Teresa Jiménez Becerril, Luis de Grandes Pascual and Pilar del Castillo Vera. The sixth position is for the former President of Murcia, and President of the Committee of the Regions, Ramón Luis Valcárcel. He is followed by well-known MEPs such as Rosa Estarás, Francisco Millán and Pablo Zalba.

According to the most recent survey by Metroscopia, the Partido Popular will win 16 seats in the European Parliament, 2 less than the Socialists.

The decision will be taken by 36.5 million Spanish Citizens who can vote next 25 May. The biggest fear is abstention, which reached 54% in 2009 and 2004.

Socialists and other political parties

The survey doesn’t give a chance to MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament, to gain a seat. He has decided to leave the PP, in order to lead a new political group VOX, which aims to offer an alternative to Spain’s two main parties, the Partido Popular, and the Socialists. VOX was founded by former MEP Santiago Abascal, and José Antonio Ortega Lara.

The Socialists (PSOE), for its part, are led by Elena Valenciano, the Vice Secretary General of the group. 60% of the names on its list are new. However, it also includes veterans like Ramón Jáuregui and Fernando López Aguilar.

Raül Romeva, will campaign with the French Greens.

After the Socialists and the PP, surveys say that the Left party will gain 9 seats, followed by UPyD (5), CEU (the Catalan CiU, the Basque PNV, the Canarian CC, the Valencian BNV, the Majorcan UM, UMe y PA) with 3, the Catalan ERC with 2 and Ciutadans with 1.

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.

But others have argued that the European parties’ push for own candidates may not be the best solution. Raising expectations could easily lead to disappointment, Herman Van Rompuy has repeatedly said, calling for caution in case the European Council chooses another candidate than the winning party’s frontrunner.

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