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EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

PP selects agriculture minister to head party slate at European elections

Arias Cañete had been mentioned as a possible candidate for months

Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Cañete will lead the PP slate in the European elections. Ampliar foto
Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Cañete will lead the PP slate in the European elections. EL PAÍS

Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Cañete will head the Popular Party’s slate in next month’s European Parliamentary elections, PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal announced on Wednesday.

After months of speculation following the sudden withdrawal of veteran MEP Jaime Mayor Oreja from this year's race, the ruling party’s choice was well received by his fellow PP members. The PP parliamentary bloc in Congress broke out into applause when their bench leader Alfonso Alonso took the podium to congratulate Arias Cañete.

“We wish him luck even though we know he is going to do well,” said Alonso.

Polls had shown the minister to be the overwhelming favorite among Spanish voters to become the PP’s top candidate in the May 25 race.

The PP waited to almost the April 21 deadline to announce Arias Cañete’s candidacy

The opposition Socialists recently selected their deputy secretary general, Elena Valenciano, to lead their slate.

The PP waited to almost the April 21 deadline to announce Arias Cañete’s candidacy, even though his nomination had been assured in political circles for some time. For months, Arias Cañete has told reporters that he was at his party’s disposal to assume any role the PP leadership had in store for him.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to select a new agriculture chief on Friday. In all probability, the ministry’s secretary general, Isabel García Tejerina, will replace Arias Cañete, according to government sources. However, they warned there could also be a surprise announcement.

“This is the type of person Spain needs at the EU level. Cañete is one of the people who has best defended Spain in Europe,” De Cospedal said.

When asked if she was interested in taking over Arias Cañete’s ministerial post, De Cospedal, who is also premier of Castilla-La Mancha, said she was happy to remain a regional government chief.