Frank-Walter Steinmeier

With a mere 27 members (all European heads of state or government, admittedly), the electorate that will pick the European Union’s first full-time president and new foreign policy high representative is even smaller than the conclave of Roman Catholic cardinals that chooses a new pope.  But this isn’t stopping other European busybodies from trying to muscle in on the decision.

Take the main political groups in the European Parliament, for example.  They have no formal say in the matter whatsoever.  Nonetheless, the parliament’s socialist group appears confident that it has an informal understanding with the centre-right European People’s Party that the full-time EU presidency should go to a EPP politician and the foreign policy post should go to a socialist. Read more

I’m in Hamburg today wondering what would happen if next Sunday’s German election were to produce not some messy, inconclusive result, but a clear-cut victory for one party or the other in the ruling Christian Democrat-Social Democrat grand coalition.  What might this mean for the allocation of top jobs in the European Union?

Of course, unless the opinion polls are wildly wrong, it is inconceivable that the Social Democrats will emerge as the largest party in the Bundestag.  The post-reunification fissures of the German left seem to have doomed the SPD to second place in perpetuity behind the Christian Democrats.  But if the inconceivable were to happen, then Angela Merkel would no longer be chancellor and would presumably be looking for a new challenge and a new job. Read more