Donald Tusk favourite to lead EPP

The outgoing president of the European Council, Donald Tusk has been nominated for the leadership of the European People’s Party (EPP), the continent’s leading political family and the largest political group in the European Parliament.

“Donald Tusk is a leading politician of the European Christian Democrats. Everyone in Europe was encouraging him to run to become EPP president, including the current EPP leader Joseph Daul,” Grzegorz Schetyna, the head of Poland’s Civic Platform party – of which Mr Tusk was a member – told reporters.

The outgoing EU Council president remains the sole candidate to lead Europe’s conservative political bloc ahead of the party’s annual congress in Zagreb on November 21 and 22.

“Many leaders of the parties that make up the EPP encouraged me to run for the presidency. It’ll be decided in November,” he told the French media after the nomination was made public.

The next EPP president will likely be instrumental in making the final decision about the membership of Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz, that was suspended from the bloc in March following a backlash over the Hungarian government’s handling of the rule of law and corruption.

During the last EPP congress in Helsinki, Mr Tusk harshly criticised the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and his party, stressing that “no one has the right, at least in our political family, to attack liberal democracy and its foundations.”

“If you are against the rule of law and independent judiciary, you are not a Christian Democrat. If you don’t like the free press and the NGOs, if you tolerate xenophobia, homophobia, nationalism and antisemitism, you are not a Christian Democrat.”

Mr Tusk has also been tapped to run for president in Poland’s upcoming presidential election, scheduled for next year. While he has not confirmed that he would run, he told the French media that leading the EPP would not stop him from “full engagement in Polish issues.”