Finland’s former PM Alex Stubb soundly beaten in EU top job vote

German MEP Manfred Weber cleans up in Helsinki with 80% of the vote.

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File picture of Alex Stubb campaign volunteers outside EPP's Congress, 08.11.2018 / Credit: News Now Finland

Finland’s former Prime Minister Alex Stubb has been soundly beaten in a vote that would have taken him one step closer to becoming ‘President of Europe’.

Hundreds of delegates from the European People’s Party EPP, congress in Helsinki, voted 492 to 127 for German MEP Manfred Weber to be their lead candidate or ‘Spitzenkandidat’.

File picture of Manfred Weber campaign material at Messukeskus Helsinki 08.11.2018 / Credit: News Now Finland

The EPP is an umbrella group of mostly centre-right political parties in more than two dozen EU countries. If their member parties get the most European Parliament seats at the next election in 2019, they get the chance to put forward their Spitzenkandidat to be the President of the European Commission.

Speaking to reporters after his victory at Helsinki’s Messukeskus, Weber said that his battle against Stubb had been “an extremely fair competition”.

“Different profile, different kind of doing politics but the most important thing is that we are on content, united” he said.

 

What next for Alex Stubb?

Stubb has been on a leave of absence from his job at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg during the last five weeks of campaigning.

He’ll return to his day job for now, but his strategy has surely been to raise his profile, re-introduce himself to a wider European audience, and put himself in contention for a more prestigious EU job after the next elections.

Speaking to News Now Finland at the EPP event, before the result of the vote was announced, Finland’s Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen (NCP) says there are more options in Alex Stubb’s future.

“Well Stubb is quite a big star in the international politics and European politics, and i think there is a culture from finnish politics that we have to be diplomats, we are coming from the north, we are from a small country, Russia is in our eastern border, we are not a member of NATO we have to have friends from outside democratic countries” he says.

“And that is why Alexander Stubb will be a really great choice to some other great positions in the EU or some other organisation”.

There has been some speculation among pundits that Stubb – a former Foreign Minister of Finland – could be in the frame by mid-2019 to be the EU’s High Representative, a foreign minister-type role.