The five major candidates elected by their respective European parties to become the next president of the European Commission are debating today in a (mostly) English-language debate on the future of the European Union.
It’s jarring enough that a debate among two Germans, a Greek, a Luxembourger and a Belgian on the future of Europe is taking place officially in English. I’ll have some more thoughts in the coming days on the contest among the European Commission presidential contest.
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For now, as I watch the debate, the candidate with the most energy is former almost certainly former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt. He’s the candidate of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE), currently the third-largest bloc in the European Parliament, and comprised of many of Europe’s economically and socially liberal parties.
Verhofstadt, who belongs to the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open VLD, Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten), served as Belgium’s prime minister from 1999 to 2008, and he’s more responsible for orienting Belgium toward a Thatcherite economic orientation than just about anyone else in the past four decades in that country (Belgium will also hold its national elections on May 25, the same day as most countries will vote in the European parliamentary elections).
He’s also the candidate with the best tie, hands-down. Can you imagine a US presidential candidate wearing such a fashion-forward tie on the campaign trail, let alone a presidential debate? Continue reading Photo of the day: Guy Verhofstadt’s tie