Manfred Weber: The top candidate next door

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Manfred Weber is expecting a political home game when he arrives at the Dresden airport building last Friday. Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) warmly welcomes the top candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) for the European elections. On the top floor, several hundred, almost without exception, the CSU politician weighed in listeners. Weber walks to the podium and does what he does on every public appearance: he smiles.

Michael Stabenow

Michael Stabenow

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries.

The non-applied friendliness seems to be something like the hallmark of the 46-year-old Lower Bavaria. That he dares to swap the post of EPP Group President in the European Parliament with that of the EU Commission President is beyond doubt. Nonetheless, the recent verbal attacks by top socialist leader Frans Timmermans and the doubts expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron on the European top-of-the-range model should have more than appalled him.

He can hardly comment on this. Winner of the EPP party congress in Helsinki in November, Weber wants to preserve on the European stage the aura of the nice Manfreds next door, who surrounds the former guitarist of a rock band in his home town of Wildenberg between Ingolstadt and Landshut. Also in Dresden he has this aura. He gives little information about his private life.

How important family and friends are to him, however, can be seen from the fact that he after the event and before the planned on the next day onward to a joint campaign appearance with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Zagreb still a stopover at home. For months Weber rushes from appointment to appointment. He finds an opportunity for inner contemplation when visiting churches, says the member of the Central Committee of German Catholics.

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