“Let’s not have candidates, I don’t want to be, let’s look for a consensus candidate or candidate that we can defend popular, socialists and liberals.” This is how Esteban González Pons responded on Radio Nacional to the possibility that he is a candidate for the popular bench to succeed the social democrat David Sassoli as president of the European Parliament as of January, when half of the legislature is completed.
“I will not be a candidate against another candidate,” he explained in conversation with elDiario.es: “I will not divide the Europeanists. We must be able to agree on a common candidate or candidate. I will do everything in my power to achieve it.”
Does that mean that you will not be a candidate in any case? “In no case not,” he replies, “but I put consensus before my personal options. It would be a disaster if socialists and popular people repeat a Tajani-Pittella [en aquel momento, en enero de 2017, el hombre de Berlusconi en Bruselas se impuso 291-199 al socialdemócrata]. We would win, but with what votes? We cannot fall for that. If it helps me take off, I’ve already taken off. Let’s save the unity of the Europeanists. ”
In the second half of the legislature, which begins in January 2022, the president of the European Parliament was expected to be Manfred Weber, president of the popular in the European Parliament and candidate to preside over the European Commission who fell in the final negotiations in favor by Ursula von der Leyen. Weber, from the CSU, gave way to Von der Leyen, from the CDU, and the presidency of the European Parliament in the second half of the legislature was left as a consolation prize.
But Weber now says that he does not want to be president of the European Parliament, and enters the game of chairs that Donald Tusk, president of the European People’s Party, had started. family politics, because he wants to surrender to the politics of his country. Tusk was Polish prime minister for two terms, but after his departure the political hegemony in the country has turned to the homophobic and authoritarian right of PiS, a Vox allied party in Europe.
Tusk’s departure from the EPP presidency, which will become official in the spring of next year, wants to be covered by Weber, who would unite in one person the presidency of the EPP party and the EPP parliamentary group. Which causes, incidentally, that the popular candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament is vacant as of January 2022.
And, in some way, it partly changes the conditions of the pact with socialists and liberals in the summer of 2019. Now, in what is going to happen the electoral result in the German legislative elections of September 26 will have a great impact: that the popular Europeans lose their main government or retain it will have consequences in the future of the family conservative politics and, therefore, in the near future of Manfred Weber and the Spaniard Esteban González Pons. But, in addition, it will have consequences on the European correlation of forces: the popular ones would have lost muscle in January 2022 compared to July 2021 in favor of the Social Democrats.
“I believe that we should have a single candidate, the Socialists, the Popular and the Liberals, and that it should be from the Popular Party, because that is the agreement we reached at the beginning of the legislature,” said González Pons in RNE, who has put an example that also serves as a warning to liberals: “Trying now to change that agreement is as if I now say that as Angela Merkel is going to be free and most Europeans consider her the ideal person to preside over the Union European Union, because in the renewal of the President of the Council, which will take place in the spring of next year, we remove Charles Michel [liberal] and let’s say Angela Merkel. Let us comply with the agreements of principle of the legislature, we do not have candidates. I don’t want to be. Let’s look for a president or a president of consensus that we can defend both the socialists and the liberals and the popular ones. ”
The pools placed Esteban González Pons in a good place. The Spanish already had in 2019 the possibility of presiding over the group popular in the European Parliament with the passage of Weber to the European Commission. Now, Pons, taking into account the speech that the Casado PP has practiced against the Government in Europe since the beginning of the legislature, is he an easy candidate to digest for the European socialist bench, chaired by a Spanish woman like Iratxe García? Sources popular they consider that it may be easier to sell in Spain than another candidate; but other sources, on the contrary, point out that precisely the words of Casado last week in Berlin are a sign that the understanding between PP and PSOE in Brussels is not easy.
What if it’s not González Pons? Well, in the short list of popular there are two other names: the Dutch Esther de Lange and the Maltese Roberta Metsola, vice-president of the European Parliament. Both have in their favor that it has been two decades since the European Parliament has been chaired by a woman (Nicole Fontaine, 1999-2002), but they also have elements that may upset the socialists against them. De Lange is from the party chaired by Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch finance minister who burst an Ecofin at the beginning of the pandemic with its recalcitrant position against the south, described as “disgusting” by Portugal. And Metsola, for its part, has been extremely harsh against the socialist governments of Malta, which, on the other hand, is a small country – which does not necessarily play in its favor either.
What if Sassoli repeats?
The Social Democrats do not feel that they are due to the 2019 summer pact for two reasons: because the candidate will no longer be Weber and because the balance of forces in Europe is changing in their favor and to the detriment of the EPP. Iratxe García, president of the European socialist group in the European Parliament, said this Tuesday in Strasbourg: “Today we have another series of priorities regarding the agreement, and we must see what the political circumstances are at all times. Does anyone think that the political situation in Europe today is the same as it was two and a half years ago? Political situations change, political balances change. That does not mean that the decisions that were taken at the time are not taken for granted. But Right now we have to assess many issues and obviously it is important to maintain cooperation between the European political forces in the European Parliament. We are aware of this and we are going to work for it. It is still too early to make a decision about the future in the distribution of the responsibilities of the European Parliament “.
In this sense, if the numbers were to come out, it could be hypothesized that the Socialists would be encouraged to try to get Sassoli to repeat as a candidate in January. But that will depend on the names that the popular ones move, the German elections, to what extent the liberals will vote en bloc … And it is that in the European Parliament group discipline is not like in national parliaments, and the vote for the president of the European Parliament it is individual and secret.
“David Sassoli is an extraordinary president of the European Parliament who has had to address an extraordinary situation during these two years in office”, Iratxe García stated: “And he has been the face and voice of what this Parliament mostly thought and claimed. From there, it is too early to make a decision about the future of the European Parliament. We are not talking about the future of the people, we are talking about the future of the institution. I think it is important to be responsible with the institution and not open a nominal debate of people. This is what the PP has decided to do. It is their responsibility and they will have to resolve this issue once they have opened the internal melon. But we are not in that right now. That does not exclude the one that I value very positively the work of who remains our President of Parliament s today. ”