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European Elections 2019: Candidates for the top EU job

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Manfred Weber, the conservative candidate for the EU Parliament elections in May, is considered the front-runner in the race to lead the European Commission. DW takes a closer look at him, and the other candidates.

Manfred Weber

Manfred Weber (EPP)

The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) — the largest faction in the European Parliament — has picked Manfred Weber, its German parliamentary party leader. He has the backing of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Though considered the front-runner, Weber is little known on the international stage, and his language skills are considered poor.

 Frans Timmermans
Frans Timmermans (S&D)

Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s first vice president, will lead the campaign for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D). Weber’s main rival promises to bring the bloc closer to ordinary voters at a time when Britain’s looming exit is one factor behind the nationalist movements across the EU.

Jan Zahradil (imago/Belga)

Jan Zahradil (ECR)

The third-largest group in the EU Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), has just one candidate: Jan Zahradil, chairman of the Czech ECR delegation. Zahradil, 65, is affectionately known as “Forrest Gump” for cycling from Prague to Strasbourg for a session of the European Parliament and for once running 1,300 kilometers (about 800 miles) across the Czech Republic for charity.

Margrethe Vestager (Reuters/Y. Herman)
Margrethe Vestager (ALDE)

Margrethe Vestager, 51, was one of seven lead candidates for the ALDE. As the current EU commissioner for competition, the Danish MEP has taken on big corporations like Apple, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet. It’s also been said that she served as the inspiration for the main character in Borgen, a Danish TV show where a woman becomes the first female prime minister of Denmark.

Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout (picture-alliance/dpa/W. von Dewitz)
Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA)

The Greens/EFA is the seventh largest group in European Parliament, so the Dutchman is a long shot to become European Commission president. The 42-year-old MEP said he has joined the race to “make sure the Green vision is being heard.” He has championed a move to cap palm oil use by 2023, then reduce it to zero by 2030.

Violeta Tomic (picture-alliance/ANP/M. van Hoom)
Violeta Tomic (GUE/NGL)

Violeta Tomic (at left) is a deputy in Slovenia’s National Assembly. She is best known as a TV presenter and actress and entered into politics in 2014. She is an advocate for LGBT rights and stronger citizens’ rights in Europe.

The nominee of the strongest party in May’s European Parliament elections has a good chance of being chosen as president of the European Commission, replacing the outgoing Jean-Claude Juncker.