Lead candidate for EU polls

Germany's Manfred Weber picked to lead conservatives into EU elections.

Lead candidate for EU polls

Helsinki (dpa) - The European People's Party (EPP) on Thursday voted in German EU lawmaker Manfred Weber as its lead candidate for next year's European Parliament elections, sources told dpa, putting him in pole position for one of the top EU posts.

Finnish ex-premier Alexander Stubb had challenged Weber for the conservative group's nomination.

Under the lead candidate system, political groups put forward their preferred choice of commission president. However, the final decision must be vetted by EU leaders.

The system was introduced to improve transparency and voter participation in the European Union's elections.

Weber, who stems from Germany's traditionally conservative southern region of Bavaria, leads the EPP group in parliament, where it is the largest faction.

However, he is little-known outside Germany and EU political circles, and has never held a role in government.

Weber's strongest rival will likely be Frans Timmermans, the lead candidate of the Party of European Socialists. Smaller parties are also in the process of picking their favourites.