As expected, Alexander Stubb, the ex-Prime Minister of Finnland, has announced his candidacy to become the center-right’s Spitzenkandidat for the job of President of the European Commission. In an interview with the Financial Times, he strictly criticized the approach of the Hungarian government towards democracy and European values.
Stubb expressed his antipathy of Orban’s government during the Sargentini debate and campaigned to expel Fidesz from the European People’s Party. “Either you’re with us or you’re out. You simply have to abide by the rules,” he said earlier.
Until recently the only official Spitzenkandidat of the EPP was German Manfred Weber; the application closes in mid-October and, in November, the Congress will decide who is going to run for election in April.
According to press analyses, it is PM Orbán, rather than Mr. Weber, that Stubb sees as his political adversary. “I do not want the illiberal democracy. My tolerance level for the type of behavior that we’re seeing in many European countries at this particular moment, including Hungary, is very low,” he told the FT.
Stubb firmly wants to represent the internationalist and liberal standpoints in the EPP, as he confirmed to the Financial Times: “I want to stand on the European barricades and defend our way of life. I’m not saying that it’s perfect; it never will be. But I’m saying that it’s worth keeping.”
The Finnish candidate is fluent in five languages and a graduate of the College of Europe. The socially liberal and cosmopolitan Stubb seems to have more in common with Emmanuel Macron’s thinking than that of his conservative peers in the EPP.