The socialist candidate to become the next President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, put in a confident performance tonight at the Maastricht debate, the first Spitzenkandidaten showdown ahead of the European elections. An online audience vote consistently showed Frans Timmermans in the lead, ultimately being voted the winner of the debate with 43% of votes cast in his favour.
Speaking at the opening of the debate, Frans Timmermans said:
“I propose dialogue over confrontation. I propose equality over discrimination. I propose a sustainable future over a fossil-fuelled economy. I propose that we do this together, and not give the nationalists any room. You know who did this last night? Pedro Sanchez and he won the election in Spain.”
The debate was followed live by students from Maastricht University, by online viewers, and by those who had gathered to watch the debate at open-air screenings in Maastricht and Brussels, and in over 40 viewing parties in universities in 20 European countries.
In a debate focused on the concerns of young people, many of whom will be voting for the first time, the PES Common Candidate set out a range of PES proposals which are strongly supported by young voters, including plans for more gender equality, stronger rights for workers and plans to tackle climate change.
The PES Common Candidate was joined at the event by Bas Eickhout for the European Green Party, Violeta Tomić for the Party of the European Left, Guy Verhofstadt for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and Jan Zahradil for the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe. The European People’s Party did not put forward their candidate for the debate.
The 90-minute event, broadcast live across the European Union, was organised by Politico and the Province of Limburg, the Municipality of Maastricht, Maastricht University, European Youth Forum, and the European Journalism Centre.