By Ayhan Simsek
European conservative parties chose German lawmaker Manfred Weber as their "lead candidate" on Thursday for next year’s European Parliament elections.
Weber was elected at the European People’s Party’s (EPP) congress in Helsinki, which brought together leaders of conservative parties across Europe, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The 46-year-old politician won 79 percent of the delegation votes, while his rival former Finnish Premier Alexander Stubb won 20 percent.
Following Thursday’s vote, Weber emerged as the likely successor of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whose term will end in 2019.
The EPP, which brings together Christian Democrats and center-right parties, is currently the largest political group at the European Parliament.
Weber’s chances of getting the top EU job will depend on the EPP’s success in the European Parliament elections to be held in May 2019, and maintaining its position as the largest political group.