European political parties

2014 will see European political parties come of age, with many of them selecting a common European candidate for presidency of the European Commission.

Click the links below to read a profile of each of the main parties, to see how it will select its candidate, and to see some of the contenders for the role:


Party banners - EPP


The European People’s Party (EPP) is the major European political party of the centre-right. Founded in 1976 by Christian democratic parties, it also included conservative and other centre-right parties.

The EPP is the largest party in all three institutions. The EPP Group has been the biggest political group in the European Parliament since 1999, and EPP politicians account for the largest number of members of the European Commission and European Council (including the presidents of these bodies).

Founded: 1976
Members: 73 (51 in EU countries, plus 22 in non-EU countries)
President: Joseph Daul MEP (interim leader)

Candidate selection process

13 November 2013
The EPP leadership will meet to draw up profile of its candidate for the presidency of the European Commission and to set ‘best practices’ for its approach. The criteria that the EPP candidate will be an current or former prime minister were established in February 2013.

6-7 March 2014
The EPP will announce its candidate for the Commission presidency at the EPP Congress in Dublin. Fine Gael (currently the leading party in government in Ireland) has been selected to host the congress to launch the party’s election campaign.

The expected 2,000 delegates will bring together the heads of government, party leaders, ministers, national and European parliamentarians, and delegates from EPP member parties throughout Europe.


Official visit of Jose Manuel Barroso to Finland

Enda Kenny

Viviane Reding

Jose Manuel Barroso

Michel Barnier

Party banners - PES


The Party of European Socialists (PES) is the major European political party of the centre-left. The PES was officially founded in 1992 but had existed as a confederation since 1973 and includes socialist and social democratic parties from across the continent.

The PES is represented in the European Parliament by the Socialists & Democrats Group, which also includes non-PES parties such as the Italian Democratic Party. The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, is from the PES family (German Social Democratic Party), as is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton (British Labour Party).

Founded: 1973 (became the PES in 1992)
Members: 28 (plus 18 associate or observer parties)
President: Sergei Stanichev

Candidate selection process

1-31 October 2013
Member parties and organisations (including the S&D Group) can nominate a person to be the PES ‘common candidate’. Each nominee needs to be supported by 15% of PES full member parties or organisations (at least one nominating the candidate, plus five other supporters).

6 November 2013
The PES Presidency holds a meeting to verify the process and announce the candidate(s).

1 December 2013 to 31 January 2014
Votes take place in each member party to select the winning candidate. This process can involve direct or indirect consultation of individual members and the result must be ratified by a democratically-elected body of the member party.

February 2014
An extraordinary PES Congress will ratify the election of the winning candidate and approve the Party’s manifesto. Weighted votes – based on the representation of each member party in the PES Congress – will be used to determine the winning candidate.


Martin Schulz

Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Jose Luis Zapatero

Pascal Lamy

Party banners - ALDE


The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party) was originally formed in 1976, bringing together centrist and Liberal parties from across Europe. Just before the 2004 European Parliament elections it became the European Liberal Democrat and Reform (ELDR) Party, reflecting the name of its European Parliament political group.

After the election, the Liberals in the European Parliament – in a bid to encourage membership from a broader range of parties – became the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. The Party took this name in November 2012. Politically, the Party brings together both social and economic liberals.

ALDE is the third largest European-wide political party in all the European Union institutions.

Founded: 1976 (became the ALDE Party in 2012)
Members: 55
President: Sir Graham Watson MEP

Candidate selection process

28-29 November 2013
The Liberal Congress, meeting in London, opens a call for nominations.

19 December 2013
The names of the candidates are made public at a pre-summit meeting before the European Council in Brussels.

From 20 December 2013
National member parties may vote – possibly online – for a candidate.

1 February 2014
The ALDE Party candidate is announced at a special electoral Congress in Brussels.


Guy Verhofstadt
FINLAND, Helsinki: EC Vice President Olli Rehn pictured during Economic Ideas Forum in House of Estates on June 7, 2013 in Helsinki, Finland. PHOTO BY: EU/AFP/Atte Kajova

Party banners - EGP


The European Green Party (or ‘European Greens’) is a federal party that brings together ecologists from across Europe.

Growing out of the European Federation of Green Parties, the EGP was founded in 2004. The party’s MEPs sit in the European Parliament as part of the Greens / European Free Alliance (G/EFA) with moderate nationalists and regionalists.

Nearly 40 parties are members of the EGP.

Founded: 2004 (European Federation of Green Parties formed in 1993)
Members: 33 in the European Union
Co-leaders: Reinhard Bütikofer MEP and Monica Frassoni

Candidate selection process

4 September to 20 October 2013
A call for candidates was launched on 4 September, after which affiliated parties were able to express support for one candidate.

21 October to 4 November 2013
Candidates must acquire the support of at least four (and a maximum eight) of the 33 EU member parties of the European Green Party to be eligible for the next phase. Each EGP-affiliated Party can express support for one candidate.

8-10 November 2013
A meeting of the EGP’s Autumn Council launches the voting phase. All EU citizens aged 16 years or more are eligible to participate in an online vote to select the two candidates. The EGP manifesto will be adopted at the same meeting.

28 January 2014
Voting closes.

29 January 2014
The results of the primary election are announced at a press conference. Two candidates will be chosen.

21-23 February 2014
Presentation of the leading candidates at an electoral Congress.


A guide to the six contenders is available here and a profile of Rebecca Harms MEP, Co-Leader of the G/EFA Group in the European Parliament, is available here.

Party banners - AECR


The Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) is a conservative, eurosceptic party. Formed in 2009, it has thirteen member parties in ten countries.

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group in the European Parliament vies with the Greens / European Free Alliance Group to be fourth-largest in the Parliament, although unlike the Greens, the AECR is represented in the European Council (by David Cameron, the British prime minister).

The AECR and the parliamentary group are principally led by the British Conservatives, the Polish Law and Justice Party and the Czech Civic Democratic Party.

Founded: 2009
Members: 11 in the European Union (plus two non-EU members and a Canadian associate member)
President of the Board: Jan Zahradil MEP

Candidate selection process

The AECR has not yet outlined a process for the nomination of a common candidate for 2014. In line with its Eurosceptic position, the party will not have a common manifesto as it regards the European Parliament elections as 28 national elections to a common body.

The Prague Declaration sets out the principles of the AECR.


The AECR has not yet outlined a process for the nomination of a common candidate for 2014.

Party banners - MELD


The Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy was founded in 2011. Its members are conservative parties that oppose further integration and, in many cases, support withdrawal from the European Union.

Its parties sit in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group (although the United Kingdom Independence Party of the Group leader, Nigel Farage, is not a member of the MELD) and as non-attached members.

Founded: 2011
Members: 12 countries represented by parties or individual MEPs
President of the Board: Niki Tzavela MEP

Candidate selection process

The MELD has not yet outlined a process for the nomination of a common candidate for 2014.


The MELD has not yet outlined a process for the nomination of a common candidate for 2014.

Party banners - PEL


The Party of the European Left brings together far-left and communist parties.

Formed in 2004, MEPs from member parties sit in the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament.

Some member and observer parties also take part in the more radical European Anti-Capitalist Left.

Founded: 2004
Members: 27 member and ten observer parties (30 of which are from EU countries)
Chairperson: Pierre Laurent

Candidate selection process

19 October 2013
The Council of Chairpersons of the Party of the European Left decided to designate a common candidate for the presidency of the European Commission.

13-15 December 2013
The PEL Congress, meeting in Madrid, will discuss the approach and the only proposed candidate, Alexis Tsipras. The Council of Chairpersons has mandated the Presidency of the PEL to consult all members and observers parties and the GUE/NGL Group in the European parliament about this application.