World News

Macron seeks progressive coalition for EU parliament by end 2018

Slideshow ( 3 images )

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron wants to forge a coalition of progressives for next May’s European Parliament election by around the end of the year, a source in his office said on Wednesday.

France’s Europhile leader is seeking to build a loose, pan-European campaign of like-minded progressives to hold back the tide of anti-immigrant nationalists.

“The idea is to make a coalition that brings progressives together around a joint platform transcending well-structured existing political families,” a source at the Elysee presidential palace said.

“We are at an important moment for Europe where we’ve got to rebuild ourselves because the nationalists won’t hesitate to rebuild themselves. So we must not remain prisoners of political badges,” the source added.

Campaigning for the May 23 and 26 election is likely to get under way in full early next year, which means the joint platform has to be thrashed out “around December-January,” the source said.

Manfred Weber, 46, who leads the pan-EU conservative group in the European Parliament, said on Wednesday he would seek nomination as the European People’s Party’s lead candidate for the election with the aim of then taking over as president of the European Commission.

Meanwhile, Macron has been active in reaching out to possible allies around Europe for a campaign confounding traditional party moulds, much as he did in his successful bid for the French presidency in 2017.

The Elysee source downplayed the importance of having a lead candidate to embody the new political movement, saying that was not voters’ priority.

“What they want to see is five or six themes that the candidates want to make happen in Europe and that they are able to do it. That’s what we’re going to work on,” the source said.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier; writing by Leigh Thomas, Editing by William Maclean