What is the Spitzenkandidat process?
The Spitzenkandidat, or lead candidate, process is an informal arrangement that was used in 2014 to elect the president of the European Commission. Each political grouping in the European Parliament selected a lead candidate or candidates prior to the 2014 European Parliament election on the understanding that the political group with the most seats would then have a mandate to lead the Commission. As a result, Jean-Claude Juncker was elected president of the Commission, as he was the lead candidate of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) grouping, which won the most seats. The purpose of the system was to increase the transparency of the process for electing the president, who would previously have been decided upon by the European Council before seeking approval by the European Parliament. In 2019, European leaders chose to appoint Ursula von der Leyen as President of the Commission instead of following the Spitzenkandidat process again.
Find out more – read analysis by Professor Hussein Kassim on the Von Der Leyen Commission and Brexit.