German Greens won't back aspiring EU head who woos far right

April 25, 2019 - 10:38 am

BERLIN (AP) — A leading candidate for Germany's left-leaning Greens said Thursday that his party won't back any candidate for president of the European Union's executive branch who relies on support from the far right.

Populist and far-right parties critical of the EU are expected to make gains in European parliamentary elections, which are being held in the 28 member countries May 23-26.

Sven Giegold, a veteran German lawmaker in the European Parliament, said if the Greens' own candidate for president of the EU's executive commission fails to win sufficient support, which is likely, the party would seek to form "a clear pro-European majority" in the bloc's legislature.

"We won't back anyone who allows themselves to be supported by the far right," Giegold told reporters in Berlin. The comment was directed toward the center-right European People's Party and its leading candidate, Manfred Weber, who is hoping to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission.

The Greens have polled strongly in Germany in recent weeks, putting them on course to send more than a dozen lawmakers to Brussels and potentially act as kingmaker in the choice of who holds the top commission post.

Giegold said his party won't try to woo voters from the far-right Alternative for Germany party ahead of the country's EU election.

"I think the best remedy (for populism) is reforms in Europe that solve problems and clarity when it comes to fundamental values," he said. "Whoever talks about people as if they are dirt or sweepingly denigrates them has simply left the basis of our society."

Asked about the Green mayor in Tuebingen, Boris Palmer, who recently complained on Facebook about a promotional ad for German railways lacking white men, Giegold said he didn't speak for the party.

"(Palmer) speaks for nobody but himself, and unfortunately, we can't kick him out, because that's effectively impossible within the framework of Germany's party law," he said.

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