The European Commission vice president and former Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans will lead the Party of European Socialists (PES) in the 2019 European elections. He was the only candidate on the ballot.
European socialist parties have approved Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands to lead them in May elections and to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission. Juncker is due to step down in mid-2019.
Timmermans, who currently serves as Juncker's deputy, won the election at the 11th congress for Europe's alliance of socialist parties in Lisbon on Saturday after his only rival, Slovakia's Maros Sefcoviv, dropped her candidacy in November.
"It's about the choice between Manfred Weber from Bavaria and Frans Timmermans from Europe," said Achim Post, a German Social Democrat and PES secretary general. "Frans, we are relying on you and you can rely on us."
Polls show the EPP winning 183 seats and the PES winning 140 in the 751-seat assembly.
Groupings in the European Parliament first elected lead candidates — also known by the German translation "Spitzenkandidaten" — in the 2014 European elections.