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EU Debate 2014: My Dad's On TV!

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PoliticsEuropean Elections 2014

Who wants to be the new Barroso? Last night we got to find out. This is the first time the President of the EU Commission will be democratically elected. This is the first time we get to see the candidates slug it out on telly. As the saying goes, "this time it's different". So just what did they have to say for themselves? Who deserves the EU top job?

Ska Keller, 32, Ger­many, Eu­ro­pean Green Party


Ska Keller pro­posed a “green new deal” with the mantra: “a more de­mo­c­ra­tic Eu­rope which takes care of peo­ple”. Maybe it sounds triv­ial when re­peated... or maybe it sounds like a new tune for the Old Con­ti­nent. Her sup­port­ers say the sound of Ska could be the new melody Eu­rope needs to in­spire sol­i­dar­ity and so­cial so­lu­tions.

But some peo­ple thought these utopian vibes were all hot air. Lots of words, lots of dreams, but fewer “con­crete so­lu­tions". Maybe be­cause she’s the youngest can­di­date, maybe be­cause she’s the green can­di­date, maybe due to her gand­hian so­lu­tions for the cri­sis in Ukraine, but most of Keller’s de­trac­tors ac­cuse her of naivete and un­re­al­is­tic utopian ideals.

Trans­la­tion: Who ad­vises can­di­dates how to dress? Ska Keller is saved.

Ska Keller of­fers a strik­ing vi­sual con­trast to the 3 “old men of EU pol­i­tics”. Yes sir, pol­i­tics has not only a com­mu­ni­ca­tion code but also a dress one. Franziska, the 32 year old Ger­man, wears a bright red jacket and smiles. It's a world away from Ver­hof­s­tadt’s snot-coloured tie, Juncker’s ghostly vibe and Schulz' goa­tee. Green is the colour of hope, red the colour of pas­sion (and more­over “red” Tsipras was not there to claim the copy­right.)

Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt, 61, Bel­gium, Eu­ro­pean Lib­er­als

Trans­la­tion: Ver­hof­s­tadt promises 50/50 men/women in the Com­mis­sion. Bold!

Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt: The Bel­gian lib­eral was ap­plauded for promis­ing 50 per cent women in the com­mis­sion when elected. “Bold”!

He in­deed touches on a press­ing issue be­cause only 9 of 28 cur­rent Com­mis­sion­ers are fe­male.

His eco­nomic vi­sion for the fu­ture of the EU is more con­tested. Peo­ple are scared of “less reg­u­la­tion” and “more pri­va­ti­za­tion”.

But in the end Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt can re­ally count on his fam­ily. His son Louis even rec­og­nized him on TV: “That’s MY Dad”.

Mar­tin Schulz, 58, Ger­many, Pro­gres­sive al­liance of so­cial­ists and de­moc­rats

So Schulz' vi­sion of Eu­rope is clear enough to tempt a hard­line right winger? He must be doing some­thing right. But in this case, in­er­tia is on Juncker's side. But wait a mo­ment... what is his vi­sion of Eu­rope? Can you re­ally con­vey any vi­sion in 30 sec­ond sound­bites?

This South­ern Ital­ian thinks Schulz should get out more and base his poli­cies on the ev­i­dence on the ground. Of course Schulz can't be blamed for cor­rup­tion in Italy, but crit­i­cism of the "Brus­sels bub­ble" is not un­founded.

Trans­la­tion: The new Green Keller wins, Juncker loses, and Schulz makes a fool of him­self say­ing "vote for me, I'm a pop­star."

When it came to the issue of lead­er­ship Schulz said he was pre­pared to be our “pop­star”. We can’t wait for the mo­ment when he ap­pears next to Bono in the charts.

Jean-Claud Juncker, 59, Lux­em­bourg, Eu­ro­pean Peo­ple's Party

Trans­la­tion: Juncker is a pleas­ant suprise. Right-wing, yes, but a right-wing that’s in­tel­li­gent and not pop­ulist.

Find­ing a pos­i­tive tweet about Juncker’s per­for­mance was a chal­lenge. In any case, this “not pop­ulist” com­pli­ment is some­what ten­den­tious. Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt taunted Juncker about pop­ulist hell-raiser Sil­vio Berlus­coni’s mem­ber­ship of the EPP Juncker leads. Ska Keller also at­tacked Juncker, say­ing the EPP re­peat the slo­gans of ex­treme-right pop­ulists; “im­mi­gra­tion flood gates” what...??

Ob­vi­ously you can’t blame Juncker for look­ing like a wax work model, but you can cer­tainly blame him for act­ing like one. He was widely lam­basted for his stale style. Would it have been bet­ter for his rat­ings if he didn’t turn up at all?

The Juncker bus… it sure ain’t pretty. And it’s pro­vided ample am­mu­ni­tion for the Juncker par­ody twit­ter ac­count: “My main cam­paign themes for #EU­de­bate2014: jobs, jobs, jobs, peo­ple, peo­ple, peo­ple. I have a bus. I have a bus.” “I'm look­ing for­ward to #EU­de­bate2014 tonight. I imag­ine it'll be the usual chants of "Go Juncker" with teenage girls scream­ing and faint­ing.” Schulz isn't the only rock star on offer.

Aléxis Tsípras,  39, Greece, Coali­tion of the Rad­i­cal Left

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