Tuesday

7th Feb 2023

Merkel protegee eyes EU career

  • David McAllister was until recently considered Merkel's heir apparent (Photo: CDU Niedersachsen)

A year ago, David McAllister - or simply Mac - was the hottest name in town. Barely over 40, the promising politician with Scottish roots was heading towards re-election as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony and was even tipped as potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But in January, instead of a shoo-in election, a fall from grace. McAllister's coalition with the Liberals lost by a razor-thin margin to the Social Democrats and Greens led by the far less charismatic politician, Stephan Weil.

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McAllister, who was the first ever dual citizen (British-German) to have become regional prime minister, conceded the loss with tears in his eyes.

He stayed on as head of the regional CDU and after a few months decided to go for a Brussels career, accepting to be his party's top candidate in the 2014 EU elections.

Speaking in Berlin on Monday (21 October), the regional politician appeared to have recovered from the career setback. His name is now being floated as potential EU commissioner or even head of the list for the European People's Party - meaning a shot at the EU commission top job.

"The question of a German as top EPP candidate has to be decided at highest level. It is too soon now, this will be a topic for next year," McAllister said during a debate organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a political foundation close to the CDU.

Introduced by the longest-serving MEP and former Parliament chief Hans-Gert Poettering, McAllister poked fun at the current head of the EU legislature, Martin Schulz, "who seems to be the only one already campaigning for the EU elections, to little avail."

Schulz, also German, has secured the support of the Social Democrats in the European Parliament, but still has to be formally nominated by the Party of European Socialists as top candidate.

Under the new EU treaty, this means he could become head of the European Commission if he secures a majority in the EU legislature.

But on the EPP side, the selection of a top candidate is less clear.

As the largest political family with several acting prime ministers who could be considered for the commission job, the EPP is likely to keep its choice under wraps until the very last minute - a party congress in March, when the top candidate will be announced along with the election platform.

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