The nonsense of the 'Spitzenkandidaat'

15 April 2019

The nonsense of the 'Spitzenkandidaat'

Foto: SP

In the runup to the European Parliament elections, the German term 'Spitzenkandidaat' has spread into non-German-speaking countries. Hard to translate into English, but you get the general idea from the fact that the 'Spits' in football is the striker. Member states are obliged to use some kind of party list system in these elections, so the 'Spitzenkandidaat' is the lead candidate on these lists. However, in this terminology, the Spitzenkandidaat is a lead candidate across the EU. The title suggests that he or she is not confined to his or her own country, but is a European super-striker. A lead candidate electable in the entire European Union. A senseless suggestion, because in reality a candidate can stand and be elected in only one of the twenty-eight member states, and after the Brexit, just one of twenty-seven. The borderless nature of these 'Spitzen' says, therefore, more about their own egos than their electability.

Arnout Hoekstra

The European elections do not constitute a single election, but twenty-seven national elections. But Frans Timmermans (Labour), Bas Eickhout (GreenLeft) or Manfred Weber (Christian Democrats) haven't let that stop them from elevating themselves to the position of Spitzenkandidaat, thus giving away one of their greatest dreams: the United States of Europe.

In February in Strasbourg, the centrist D66, the Green Left and Labour all voted in favour of transnational lists. They dream of Europe becoming a single massive district, which would mean simply that you'd no longer vote for a Dutch candidate from a Dutch political party. This would open the door to European parties with transnational supercandidates who could attract votes across borders and would then have an international mandate. For this disastrous plan there is fortunately no majority in the European Parliament.

The European Union was conceived of as a cooperative project, not a superstate to subjugate individual countries. The Netherlands may soon have twenty-nine MEPs, representatives working on behalf of the country's inhabitants. Some spend so much time away from home that they begin to think of themselves as more European than Dutch. That the people in Cyprus and Croatia aren't begging to vote for the Dutchmen Frans Timmermans and Bas Eickhout hasn't yet fully penetrated the Brussels bubble.

Arnout Hoekstra is No 1 on the SP's list of candidates for the European Parliament.

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