One week is left until the EU parliamentary elections. It has been a long way to get to this point, especially with Brexit, as there was a lot of confusion around the process.
At the moment, the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) is expected to win the majority of seats with a grand total of 168. However, that does still include the Hungarian Fidesz Party, which has been inherently criticised for not respecting the rule of law in Hungary, ultimately resulting in the suspension of Fidesz from the EPP group. To date, it is not entirely clear whether Fidesz will remain in the EPP or whether, it will maybe form an alliance with other Eurosceptic parties, possibly diminishing the EPP’s chances for nominating the next Commission President.
Aside from the numerical challenges the EPP might face, there is also no real consensus on the Spitzenkandidaten system. Many have criticised the system and the European Council, which is entitled to nominate the Commission President, still has not officially confirmed that this system will be applied in upcoming elections again. French President Macron has been one of the most vocal critics of the system, because he claims that it does not result in the most qualified and suitable candidate to win. This is very true for Manfred Weber, the lead candidate of the EPP, is not the most experienced person to run particularly compared to other possible candidates from the EPP like Michel Barnier, the chief EU Brexit negotiator. Aside from the question of who will lead the next European Commission, gender balance is a big concern for many, not only within the Commission but for the whole of the EU institutions. At the moment, 9 out of the 28 Commissioners are women, and of the top 4 EU jobs, only the position of High Representative of Common Foreign and Security Policy is held by a woman, Federica Mogherini. Most lead candidates have promised to form a gender balanced Commission, but even if this is a promise is kept, it is still extremely unclear whether there will be an increase in female representation in top-level positions.