French MEP Valérie Hayer will become the new president of Renew Europe with “overwhelming consensus” after current interim President Malik Azmani failed to gather enough support following widespread worries about his party’s involvement with coalition talks with the far-right in the Netherlands.
Though the formal election will be on Thursday (25 January) at 8 am, hers is the only official candidacy. As such, she will be elected by acclamation, just like her predecessor Stéphane Séjourné, who left the group’s presidency to become France’s new foreign affairs minister.
The formal announcement of Hayer’s candidacy was confirmed to Euractiv by a Renew spokesperson.
With Azmani dropping out of the race, Renew avoids a direct public confrontation which could damage the group’s image, attempting instead to portray unity and consensus ahead of critical EU elections.
As Euractiv reported earlier, Azmani’s bid was weakened by his party’s (Dutch liberal VVD) ongoing coalition talks with far-right PVV in the Netherlands. Some were concerned this could weaken the group’s credibility during the EU elections, as their plan is to run on the ticket of holding off the surge of the far-right.
On the one hand, Hayer’s appointment represents a major win for French President Emmanuel Macron, which now has ensured sustained influence over the group, at least until the EU elections.
On the other, Azmani’s defeat means that the ALDE party – the biggest faction within Renew Europe, representing 57 out of 101 seats – has lost its chance to regain control of the group presidency, which they lost in 2019 after the election of independent Romanian MEP Dacian Cioloș as group president.
At a time when the far-right is surging across Europe, especially in France with Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National, Macron needs to “keep Renew Europe as close as possible to his position”, European Policy Centre analyst Eric Maurice told Euractiv, “especially on economic, industrial policy, strategic autonomy, defence and security, and any other topics which at at the core of French foreign politics.”
In the meantime, Macron has recently executed a profound reshuffle of his governments, which, according to Maurice, is a way to prepare for the EU elections to compete at the national and EU levels.
Source: Eura CTIV