The European Parliament has chosen its frontrunner. Unsurprisingly, political group leaders have given Jean-Claude Juncker the green light to seek a majority in his bid to become the next European Commission president.
They will ask heads of government to back their move despite opposition from some quarters.
The head of the socialist group Martin Schulz said: “The results of the European election indicate that amongst the ‘spitzenkandidaten’ (the lead candidates) Mr Juncker, as head of the largest party the EPP, has the best chance of finding a majority here in the parliament.”
For Nigel Farage, newly elected MEP and leader of the UK Independence Party (Ukip), the news was confirmation that the EU establishment was closing ranks.
“There is nobody more fanatical about building the United States of Europe, and his candidacy is there on the paper just at the moment that the European electors have made it clear they are going in the wrong direction,” he said in reference to Juncker.
In the European Parliament, what is being witnessed is in effect a grand coalition between right and left which is taking shape, with the aim of isolating the Eurosceptics.
The leader of the third largest group, Guy Verhofstadt of the liberals wants to join them. It should help him land a parliamentary post.
“(We need) a stable majority, that means more than 400 seats. Otherwise it’ll depend on the backing of parties such as those of Mr Orban or Mr Berlusconi,” he said.
Beyond the issue of the next Commission president, other high level posts in the Parliament are also up for grabs. That will depend on the weight of each political group. Yet with new groups arriving and others changing sides, it will be several weeks before the wheeling and dealing ends and the European Parliament takes its final shape.