“Other candidates were soon toast”

Charles Michel is the new president of the European council.  This media outlet suggested it could happen, but even we were somewhat surprised when it actually did. Prof Hendrik Vos, lecturer in European politics, explains that not being expected to get a top job is one of the reasons why Mr Michel got it.

“If your head appears above the parapet early in the race during a selection process like this, there will always be somebody eager to shoot you down.  Mr Michel entered the running late as did the new commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Potential adversaries had little time to mount an opposition.”

“In earlier appointment rounds surprise candidates often landed the top job.  Hotly tipped favourites usually end up as toast in one way or another. The fact Mr Michel emerged late played to his advantage. “

Prof Hendrik Vos insists that policy too played a role: “Mr Michel has a reputation as a mediator, somebody who in Belgium brought different linguistic groups and political parties together.  It’s a quality also needed in Europe.  Mr Michel wasn’t the guy who sought the limelight in defending his European ideas in contrast with e.g. Guy Verhofstadt (a former Belgian PM and prominent liberal in the European Parliament).  Mr Michel played the card of moderation and that can be to your advantage at times like these.”