The European elections were supposed to bring a big leap forward for democracy – and turned out to be a big hoax. How did this happen?
How could this debacle happen? Why didn’t Manfred Weber (CSU) and the other top candidates prevail? And this despite the good preparation – with an internal primary election at the EPP and a coronation party conference in Helsinki, which was also attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel?
To explain this, we need to “rewind” a bit. This is what we wrote back in February 2017:
Almost at the same hour as the new GroKo (in Berlin) was sealed, the CDU and CSU voted in the European Parliament in Strasbourg against the introduction of European electoral lists – and thus against the SPD and the Greens. The progressive, federalist wing of the European Parliament wanted at least a small proportion of MEPs to be elected to EU-wide lists. (…) But this does not fit into the conservative world view of CDU/CSU. Instead of daring a little more democracy, even “convinced Europeans” like E. Brok have conducted a campaign against Europe-wide lists.Source: Eine Niederlage für Macron (und die Demokratie) – Lost in EUrope
Exactly the same party family that was committed to “democratisation” in the 2019 European elections – the CDU/CSU/EPP – has prevented the reform that was the basis for more democracy in the EU.
So far, so well known. Today – far too late – even Weber (CSU) and Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) are in favor of pan-European lists. Maybe they will come after all – for the next election in 2024?
Less well known is the domestic political background to the 2019 election bankruptcy. To understand it, we must look back again – to the summer of 2018, when a power struggle raged between Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
It could only be resolved with effort and many dislocations. But just at the moment when the waves had calmed down to some extent, Weber knocked on the Chancellery’s door – with a big request.
The CSU politician wanted to know whether Merkel would support his candidacy for the European elections – and if so, under what conditions. Earlier, EPP leader Joseph Daul had already antichambrized the Chancellor.
Merkel wanted to secure the peace with the CSU
Merkel was not enthusiastic, but did not say no either, because that would have triggered a new crisis with the CSU. So she informed Weber of her reservations about the “system” of top candidates – and let it go.
However, she also made it clear that Weber had to fight alone, he could not count on her help. It was a bad compromise, as we know today. Without Merkel Weber could not win.
But six months before the European elections, the Chancellor was able to secure peace with the CSU. At the same time she kept all options open for the European elections – without having to commit herself…
CONCLUSION: The election debacle began with tactical games by the CDU and CSU. The fact that CSU man Weber was the top candidate – and no one better was sought – has little to do with EUrope and a lot with German domestic politics.
This blogpost opened a series of articles on the European election 2019, part 2 is here (in German)
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator