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Defiant ECR predicts kingmaker role in race for Commission Presidency

Struan Stevenson [EurActiv/YouTube]

Struan Stevenson [EurActiv/YouTube]

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group last night (25 May) claimed they could act as kingmakers in the appointment of the next Commission President, as their Tory chairman lost his seat in the Parliament elections.

Martin Callanan was beaten to the third seat for the North East region of the UK by Paul Brannen, Labour’s second candidate. Jude Kirton-Daring, of Labour, and Jonathan Arnott, of UKIP won the other two seats.

The ECR were predicted to have 45 seats, 12 fewer than they currently have, in the next Parliament this morning. The European People’s Party topped the poll with 212 seats, with the Socialists next with 187.ALDE (72) and the Greens-European Free Alliance (55) were ahead of the ECR at time of this article’s writing.

Despite this, and to a backdrop of large gains by right-wing Eurosceptic parties such as UKIP (here) and France’s Front National (here), ECR MEP Struan Stevenson was bullish about the group’s future influence on European politics

He reiterated the group’s opposition to the appointment of the EPP’s “Spitzenkandidat” Jean-Claude Juncker, calling instead for a Commission President with a “reformist attitude.”

The Lisbon Treaty requires the Council of Ministers to take the election results into account when appointing the next Commission President. The ECR did not put forward a candidate because it did not believe it was a “legitimate election,” Stevenson stated.

He said, “We will not only stay relevant we might find ourselves in the position of kingmaker or even queenmaker in the next European Parliament.

“We’re going to see a hung Parliament if you look at these results and we are going to be in a crucial position. People will be coming to us to ask for our support in producing the next President of the European Commission and the European Parliament.”

With much horse-trading still to go before the final Parliament is decided, the ECR could yet wield a disproportionate influence to their size. Their track record on legislation, especially regarding financial services, shows they have been able to do that in the past.

Stevenson said, “Hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people have demanded reform. That has been our core platform since we founded this party five years ago.

“I wish all those people who were demanding reform were voting for parties in our group. But I can tell you we are going to see big changes in the next Parliament. We cannot ignore the voice of so many European citizens.”

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