Conservatives and liberals usurped Socialists in the last European Parliament elections to become the largest political group in the body. They're shooting to repeat their success at the polls in June.
Confident of triumphing: European People's Party head Poettering
Under the name the European People's Party and European Democrats (EPP-ED), mainstream conservative and center-right party members hold 292 of the 786 seats in the European Parliament (EP).
"We have good chances to win the election again," German Christian Democrat Hans-Gert Poettering a member of the parliament (MEP) in the EPP-ED group, told Deutsche Welle. "I'm confident that we will again become the strongest power after the European elections."
Poettering is an old hand in politics, having been an MEP since the first direct elections in 1979 and chairman of the EPP-ED since 1999. The group is largely made up of the European People's Party, which includes Christian Democrats, Liberals and other conservative-oriented parties.
Heir to a tradition
The initial Christian Democrat group was founded in 1953 decades before the European Coal and Steel Community evolved into the European Union. The group changed its name to European People's Party in 1979, which was supplemented by "European Democrats" in 1999 under pressure from British conservatives.
One of the group's declared aims is to resist the political priorities of the left and work towards a more competitive and democratic Europe. In addition to adoption of the EU Constitution, which has been hampered by disputes over voting powers and the failure to mention Christianity, the EPP-ED is focused on integrating the new EU member states from central and eastern Europe.
"We want conservative values to be implemented, and the conservative values rest in exactly the questions that concern agreement in the European Union," Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, deputy chairman of the Czech Christian Democratic party KDU-CSL, told Deutsche Welle.