The choice of spitzenkandidate: A comparative analysis of the Europarties’ selection procedures

G.-J. Put, S. Van Hecke, C. Cunningham, W. Wolfs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The selection of leading candidates by the political families, the so-called Spitzenkandidaten, is relatively groundbreaking as it is the first form of political recruitment organized at the EU level. The literature on candidate selection procedures has so far concentrated on national parties and their procedures. To our knowledge the analytical model has not yet been applied at the EU level. This article will fill this gap by examining the selection procedures of Europarties, more particularly for their EC presidency candidates, a novelty of the 2014 European Parliament elections. Based on the analysis of the procedures applied within the European People’s Party (EPP), the Party of European Socialists (PES), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE), the European Green Party (EGP), and the Party of the European Left (EL), one of the main findings of this article is that the procedures are largely copy-paste from the Europarties’ internal procedures for selecting a president. This can largely be explained by the lack of time and experience their party elites had in the run-up to the 2014 elections. We therefore expect the Europarties to further professionalize their selection procedures and start the process earlier with more high profile politicians to stand as candidates in 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-22
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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