50 days to go, 50 things to know about Europe’s year of change

The countdown continues: at 08:00 CET on Wednesday 2 April, there are exactly 50 days to go to the opening of the polls for the European Parliament elections.

Here is our overview of where we stand and what you need to know about Europe’s year of change:

Top jobs | Country-by-country | PollWatch 2014 | The elections and beyond | Reading list

Top jobs

EP President meets Jean-Claude Juncker
1. All the main European political parties have chosen their lead candidates for the campaign and the people they will back for the Commission presidency. Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, and Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, head the campaigns for the European People’s Party and the Party of European Socialists respectively. Read our profiles of Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz and our Storify summaries of the EPP Congress (6-7 March) and the PES Congress (1 March).

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2. Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium and current leader of the Liberal Group in the European Parliament, is the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party candidate for the Commission presidency. He co-leads the Liberal campaign with the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn. Read our profiles of Guy Verhofstadt and Olli Rehn and read our Storify of the Liberal selection process

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3. The European Greens’ campaign will be led by German MEP Ska Keller and French MEP José Bové, while the European Left will be represented by Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left – Unitary Social Front (Syriza). Read our profiles of Ska KellerJosé Bové and Alexis Tsipras

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4. The European Pirate Party has named a Swedish MEP, Amelia Andersdotter, and the founder of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, as their lead candidates. Meanwhile the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) has proposed ‘nobody for president’, claiming that there is no European demos to make the process legitimate. 

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5. The candidates for the Commission presidency will take part in at least two televised debates: the first, hosted by the University of Maastricht and the City of Maastricht in partnership with the European Youth Forum, will be held on 28 April. It will be broadcast by Euronews, with Burson-Marsteller/Europe Decides putting on a Brussels screening of the debate in partnership with the organisers. The second debate with all candidates will be organised by the European Broadcasting Union and held on 15 May. Other head-to-head debates between Juncker and Schulz are being organised by German and Austrian broadcasters.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt

6. Doubts remain over whether any of the lead candidates will take the Commission presidency. The British prime minister, David Cameron, is leading efforts among some governments to give the European Council the flexibility to choose another candidate after the elections. If the Left wins, Cameron seems to favour Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish PM, for the presidency of the Commission. There are also rumours that some leaders – notably Angela Merkel – will try to encourage Juncker to take the European Council presidency instead, leaving the Commission presidency for Christine Lagarde or Donald Tusk. Both Juncker and Schulz have stated their commitment to the process and highlighted the need for the Parliament to back any deal. Read our profiles of Helle Thorning-SchmidtChristine Lagarde and Donald Tusk, and a guest blog by Christian Feustel of BusinessEurope on the process of choosing a candidate.

Radosław Sikorski

7. Candidates for other leading posts are already jockeying for position. Potential candidates for the position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy include the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans; his Swedish and Polish counterparts, Carl Bildt and Radosław Sikorski; and a former French European affairs minister, Elisabeth Guigou. Read our profiles of the contenders to be High Representative

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8. Some names are already circulating for the presidency of the European Council. Potential successors to Herman Van Rompuy include Juncker, Fredrik Reinfeldt and Enrico Letta, who was replaced as Italian prime minister in February. Read our profiles of the contenders to be President of the European Council

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9. One job has already gone: Jens Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian prime minister, will replace Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Nato Secretary-General in October.

ECON - Economic Dialogue and exchange of views with Spanish Finance Minister
10. Other top jobs up for grabs this year include the presidency of the European Parliament and the permanent presidency of the Eurogroup (ministers of the countries using the single currency). Luis de Guindos Jurado, Spain’s Minister of the Economy and Competitiveness, is a front-runner for that post. Read our profile of Luis de Guindos Jurado

Country-by-country

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11. In Austria, MEPs Othmar Karas, Ulrike Lunacek and Martin Ehrenhauser will lead the lists for the Austrian People’s Party (EPP), the Greens, and Europe – Another Way (Europa Anders - a coalition of communists, Pirates, the Change party and independents) respectively. Former journalist Eugen Freund heads the Social Democrats’ list, while Andreas Mölzer MEP, criticised for recently comparing the EU to the Third Reich, heads the Freedom Party list. The Liberal NEOS – The New Austria party is expected to win seats. Read our list of candidates from Austria

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12. In Belgium, all the main parties have named their candidates ahead of ‘Super Sunday’ – the European, federal and regional elections that will all be held on 25 May. Guy Verhofstadt leads the Flemish Liberal list, which includes the current commissioner from Belgium, Karel De Gucht. Potential replacements for De Gucht – should he go – include the current Minister-President of Flanders, Kris Peeters. Read our country profile of Belgium, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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13. Bulgaria‘s ruling Socialists will be led into the election by the President of the Party of European Socialists, Sergei Stanichev. Former EU funds minister Tomislav Donchev heads the main centre-right list, with former commissioner Meglena Kuneva leading the Reformist Bloc ticket. Socialists and Democrats MEP Ivailo Kalfin will lead the ABC Movement list, a splinter from the Socialists. Read our country profile of Bulgaria, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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14. In Croatia, many parties have coalesced to form three lists: one headed by the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which includes Ruža Tomašić, an MEP sitting in the European Conservatives and Reformist Group; a second around centrist parties; and a third around the ruling Social Democrats and Liberal groups, headed by Neven Mimica, who is expected to be renominated to the Commission. Read our country profile of Croatia, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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15. The names of candidates for the European Parliament election in the Czech Republic are expected to be confirmed next week, but most parties have already made their lists public. ANO 2011, a centrist party that is part of the coalition government in Prague, may supply the country’s nominee to the Commission - Pavel Telička, who was a member of the College in 2004. Read our country profile of the Czech Republic, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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16. All the main parties in Cyprus have now named their candidates for the election. Four of the country’s six MEPs are standing again. Potential commissioners include government spokesperson Christos Stylianides, who is standing on list of the Democratic Rally (DISY – part of the EPP). Read our country profile of Cyprus, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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17. In Denmark, the names of the European Parliament election candidates have been known for some time. As for the Commission, potential nominees include former justice minister Morten Bødskov and former agriculture minister Mette Gjerskov. Read our country profile of Denmark, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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18. All change in Estonia: a new government coalition (Liberals and Social Democrats), a new Prime Minister (Taavi Rõivas, the EU’s youngest head of government) and a nominee for the European Commission (Rõivas’ predecessor, Andrus Ansip, who will also stand in the European Parliament election). Read our country profile of Estonia, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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19. In Finland, Alexander Stubb and fellow minister Henna Virkkunen are the leading lights on the National Coalition Party (EPP) list, and contenders to be the country’s nominee to the European Commission. Current MEPs Mitro Repo and Liisa Jaakonsaari are on the Social Democrats list, while Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn is on the Centre Party list. Read our country profile of Finland, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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20. The local election defeat for the Socialists in France, and subsequent government reshuffle, sees interior minister Manuel Valls become Prime Minister. One of those departing ministerial office may be nominated to the European Commission – possibly the finance minister, Pierre Moscovici. Most parties have selected their top candidates for the European Parliament election, but further changes and additions may be made following the municipal polls. The National Front, which won 11 town halls, is expected to perform well in the European election, possibly coming first in France. Read our country profile of France, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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21. In Germany, all the main parties have selected their candidates for the European Parliament election. The selection of a commissioner is complicated by the presence of Martin Schulz in the race to be Commission president, and other German parties have been loudly critical of him combining the PES candidacy with the European Parliament presidency. Germany’s representation in the Parliament is likely to be greatly fragmented following a decision of the constitutional court to remove the threshold for representation. Minor parties welcomed the decision. Read our country profile of Germany, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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22. Greece‘s main parties are beginning to select candidates who will compete for seats in a new ‘open list’ system. The Greens have named candidates, as have the Olive Tree, a Socialist-led centre-left coalition. Former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis is a potential commissioner. Read our country profile of Greece, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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23. The European election campaign in Hungary will begin in earnest only next week, after the national elections (which the centre-right Fidesz party is set to win). The Socialists have ditched all their current MEPs except Zita Gurmai. Krisztina Morvai MEP will lead the far-right Jobbik party’s list. Two Green/Liberal movements, Dialogue for Hungary and Politics Can Be Different, have also named candidates. Three names have been mentioned as potential commissioners: Europe minister Enikő Győri; justice minister Tibor Navracsics; and MEP József Szájer. Read our country profile of Hungary, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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24. All the main parties in Ireland have chosen their European election candidates in the country’s three constituencies. Nine MEPs are contenders for the eleven seats, with government minister Brian Hayes also standing for Fine Gael (EPP). Hayes is an outsider for the Irish nomination to the European Commission, with fellow minister Phil Hogan thought to be favourite. Read our country profile of Ireland, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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25. Italy is one of the last countries to see lists of candidates published, with the centre-left Democratic Party and the centre-right Forza Italia set to name their slates in the first half of April. Only the left-wing Tsipras List has published full nationwide lists so far, and some names have been released for Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. Former prime minister Massimo D’Alema is thought to be a frontrunner to be the country’s nominee to the European Commission. Read our country profile of Italy, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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26. Former prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis – who withdrew from the race to be the EPP lead candidate – heads the Unity party list in Latvia, with Sandra Kalniete MEP and former defence minister Artis Pabriks also on the slate. Dombrovskis is likely to be a contender for a role in the Commission. All the lists have been published by the election authorities. Read our country profile of Latvia, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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27. Algirdas Saudargas MEP heads the list for Lithuania‘s Christian Democrats, while Zigmantas Balčytis MEP leads the Social Democrats roster. Environment Minister Valentinas Mazuronis (Order and Justice – EFD Group) is also standing, while Labour Party (ALDE) founder Viktor Uspaskich heads his party’s list. Health minister Vytenis Andriukaitis is a potential nominee to the Commission. Read our country profile of Lithuania, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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28. Nine parties are presenting lists in Luxembourg, with four of the Grand Duchy’s six current MEPs standing again. Viviane Reding, currently a European Commission vice-president, heads the list for the centre-right CSV. Unless Jean-Claude Juncker takes the Commission presidency, Luxembourg’s nominee could come from the Socialists – possibly employment minister Nicolas Schmidt. Read our country profile of Luxembourg, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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29. Malta‘s main two parties – the Nationalist Party (EPP) and the Labour Party (S&D) – are expected to share the seats in the Parliament. Both have confirmed their lists, with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat also announcing his choice for the European Commission – former tourism minister Karmenu Vella. Read our country profile of Malta, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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30. The Netherlands has just held local elections which saw big defeats for the governing parties, the Liberal VVD and the Labour Party (PvdA). A repeat in the European elections seems likely, with the progressive liberals, D66, likely to capitalise on their local success. The Party for Freedom – headed by Geert Wilders – has seen its support drop since its leader incited anti-Moroccan chanting at an election party, but is still set to make gains. Read our country profile of the Netherlands, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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31. In Poland the list of the ruling Civic Platform includes current European commission Janusz Lewandowski and former finance minister Jacek Rostowski. Law and Justice (PiS), which leads the polls, has also named its lead candidates. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and a new formation, Europa Plus – Your Movement, will vie for the centre-left and liberal vote, while Poland Together and United Poland, both right-wing parties, are also putting up candidates. Rostowski is among the contenders for a post in the Commission. Read our country profile of Poland, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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32. Portugal‘s centre-right parties have formed ‘Portugal Alliance’ to fight the European election, with Paulo Rangel MEP heading the list. The Socialists’ list is led by Francisco Assis and academic Maria João Rodrigues, with only two current MEPs featuring. Far-left MEPs Marisa Matias (Left Bloc) and João Ferreira (Communists) should return. Miguel Poiares Maduro, an academic and Portugal’s current regional development minister, is among the potential Commission nominees. Read our country profile of Portugal, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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33. The deadline for parties in Romania to submit their lists of candidates has now passed, and the names should be made public in the coming days. We already know that seven current EPP MEPs, spread across three parties, will seek re-election, as will seven Social Democrats and four Liberals. The Social Democrats – who lead the government in Bucharest – are expected to win the election. Read our list of candidates from Romania

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34. Slovakia is another country where the name of the next Commission nominee has been made public: Maroš Šefčovič, currently a vice-president of the Commission, is set to be renominated. All 29 party lists for the elections have been published, with nine current MEPs seeking re-election. Read our country profile of Slovakia, with links to our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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35. The political situation in Slovenia is beginning to clarify a little, with a joint centre-right list formed and candidates for some other parties named. It is rumoured that the Social Democrats’ leader, Igor Lukšič, may lead the party’s list. Janez Potočnik seems set to try to get the government’s support for re-nomination to the Commission, but his fate is far from certain. Read our country profile of Slovenia, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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37. All the major parties in Sweden have selected their candidates, with current MEPs featuring high on the lists. However, the attention of Swedish politicians is drawn increasingly to the national elections, which take place in September. Read our list of candidates from Sweden

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37. In Spain, the Socialists (PSOE) have named a list featuring many young candidates and headed by deputy leader Elena Valenciano. The centre-right People’s Party (PP) – which promised its list and adopted its manifesto many weeks ago – is still yet to name its candidates. Agriculture minister Miguel Arias Cañete is still a contender to lead the list, but his selection as lead candidate and likely Commission nominee is less certain than previously. Many smaller parties have chosen candidates and are set the break the PSOE-PP dominance of seats in the European Parliament. Read our country profile of Spain, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

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38. In the United Kingdom, the lists of most parties have been known since last summer and campaigning is well underway in almost complete isolation from campaigns of the European parties and top candidates. The Conservatives are not proposing a lead candidate, and Labour is shunning the Socialists’ candidate, Martin Schulz. The debates between the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and the UK Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, have are bringing the European elections to the top of the news agenda. The results will have a big impact on who David Cameron picks as a commissioner. Read our country profile of the United Kingdom, with links to blogposts, our list of candidates and potential nominees to the European Commission.

PollWatch 2014

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39. PollWatch 2014, a VoteWatch Europe project in partnership with Burson-Marsteller and Europe Decides, launched on 19 February the first predictions have put the Socialists in the lead, but with ever-smaller margins. The Liberals and the far-left are vying for third place. PollWatch 2014 predictions – which translate polling data to match how people actually vote in European elections – will continue to be published until the elections. Read more about PollWatch 2014

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40. Poll numbers indicate that a high number of extremists are likely to be elected to the European Parliament. Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom are likely to try to form a group with other right-wing groups from countries including Belgium, Sweden, Austria and Italy. Read our blog on the rise of Le Pen and Wilders

The elections and beyond

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41. The elections will be held from 22 May until 25 May, with a variety of different voting systems used and qualification criteria for standing and voting. Find out more with our infographic

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42. After the elections, Herman Van Rompuy will convene a European Council meeting on 27 May to discuss the results and the impact on the choice of a president of the European Commission. The Parliament’s leaders will hold a similar meeting on the morning of 27 May – signalling the power struggle ahead.

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43. The European Parliament will elect its office-holders at the first plenary session in July, and then is set to elect a Commission president later that month. The hearings of commissioners-designate should take place in September, and the Commission is set to take office on 1 November. The new President of the European Council takes office on 1 December. Read our timeline of the main events in 2014

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44. In addition to our event on 28 April to screen the First European Presidential Debate, Burson-Marsteller / Europe Decides will organise an election night event on 25 May and a ‘morning after’ analysis of the results on 26 May. More details will follow soon.

Reading list

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45. You can keep up to date with the latest news about Europe’s year of change by following us on Twitter - @europedecides

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46. You can get our blogs and weekly round-ups delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our mailings

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47. See all the data about the elections online and read our latest posts about social media and this year’s vote. Visit our digital centre

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48. Is your organisation prepared for the changes in 2014? Find out how we can help you

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49. Visit us elsewhere on the web. Find us on Flickr, Storify and YouTube, with videos from previous events, including the PollWatch launch

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50. Read what we’ve written elsewhere. See our articles for Revolve Magazine and for Public Affairs News.

 

 

  • AndrewTurvey

    I think the country summaries would be more useful if they focussed more on which parties are likely to do well/badly rather than who has been selected on their party lists