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.
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.
After another television duel with Timmermans the night before, the working day for Weber started with a brief press conference in Berlin. Together with the local CDU top candidate Hildegard Bentele, he visits a care facility for homeless people as well as a company that has developed tailor-made digital models for the cost-saving use of shared taxis. Then it's off to the southern gates of Berlin to a turbine plant for aircraft, where it awaits the Brandenburg CDU top candidate Christian Ehler.
You know each other, you duzt. Weber wants to look down-to-earth, although he did not appear, as on the eve of the speech duel with Timmermans, with an open shirt collar, but with a tie. It is certainly not clear what is more important for him in his brief immersion in the everyday and professional world: the insights gained through precise inquiries or those photos and reports that fall away when vying for the electorate. It's probably a mixture of both.
When the candidate for the succession of the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who is leaving office at the end of October, takes the rostrum in Dresden, he is by no means disturbed. On the contrary. He starts with one or two jokes. There is no irony in the fact that he, who currently travels mostly by air through Europe, has now come to an event at an airport by car. Weber has the laughs on his side. Now he unwinds his standard repertoire. No one should forget that today's generation of Europeans are the first to live in peace and freedom.
As early as the morning, the CSU politician recalled that his first trip as a leading candidate had taken him to the former concentration camp Auschwitz. Now Weber emphasizes the central European political role that Christian Democrats like Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, but also the party friends Theo Waigel and Franz-Josef Strauß would have taken – and Angela Merkel still plays.