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Politics

Germany's CDU and Greens select top candidates for European elections

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and the opposition Greens have each selected their frontrunner for the European parliamentary elections. The poll is scheduled to take place in May.

Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU) have chosen David McAllister, the former premier of the German state of Lower Saxony, as their prime candidate for European parliamentary elections.

McAllister (pictured above, left) was chosen unanimously by the 60 participants at a closed-door conference in the eastern German city of Erfurt on Saturday.

Speaking after the vote, the 43-year-old McAllister said he would lead a "good, dynamic campaign," adding that he wanted to differentiate himself clearly from the CDU's coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the anti-euro party Alternative for Germany (AFD).

Germany's Chancellor and CDU party leader Angela Merkel said that Germany could only thrive "if Europe also thrives." She said it was now not just a matter of "getting out of the crisis somehow," but doing this in a such a way that "we can really assert our interests in the competition."

The CDU also passed a 77-page election manifesto in which it voices criticism of over-regulation within the European Union and calls for the return of some responsibilities to the national level.

The meeting was overshadowed by the scandal surrounding former CDU treasurer Helmut Linssen, who announced his resignation on Thursday following revelations that he had kept 420,000 euros ($570,000) in Caribbean tax shelters.

Linssen, 71, had been treasurer of the CDU since November 2010.

Experience beats youth

Rebecca Harms received 477 of 733 votes. Photo: Peter Endig/dpa

Rebecca Harms received 477 of 733 votes

In its choice of prime candidate for the European elections, the opposition Green party put experience before youth in selecting Rebecca Harms, the 57-year-old chairwoman of the Greens' parliamentary party in the European Parliament.

Among Harms' challengers for the job was 32-year-old Franziska 'Ska' Keller, a member of the European Parliament from the eastern German state of Brandenburg.

Harms, who comes from Lower Saxony, has made a name for herself as a prominent opponent of the nuclear waste dump in Gorleben. In her speech before the vote, she said she would work for human rights, just refugee policies in the EU and climate protection.

'Necessary' experience

Following the vote, she told Deutsche Welle in an interview that the contest against Keller was partly based on the generation issue.

"I always knew that experience is necessary for the work in the European Parliament and for conveying European ideas. That also requires a special knack for speaking with citizens, and I think I have it," Harms said.

The vote took place in the eastern German city of Dresden.

Both candidates will enter the fray against SPD top candidate Martin Schulz, 58, currently the president of the European Parliament.

The election for the European Parliament is scheduled to be held on May 25.

tj/ph (dpa, AFPD)

DW.DE