Merkel Signals Support for Juncker as Top European Candidate

German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she would back former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as the European Union conservative parties’ lead candidate for the European election in May.

Although the European People’s Party, the umbrella for conservative parties, is still in the “decision-making process,” Merkel gave a nod to Juncker’s candidacy. A conservative victory in the parliamentary vote would put him in position to succeed Jose Barroso as European Commission president.

“It’s not a secret that I have a good deal of sympathy for Jean-Claude Juncker,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin after meeting with Juncker’s successor as Luxembourg premier, Xavier Bettel. She added that the decision on a nomination “hasn’t been taken and won’t be taken by me alone.”

The EPP will nominate its candidate at a meeting in Dublin on March 6-7. Martin Schulz, the German Social Democrat who is president of the European Parliament, is the European socialists’ top candidate.

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