We’re starting our profile series of the candidates for EU Commission President with a look at José Bové and Ska Keller, both of whom were nominated by the European Green Party after having been chosen by citizens in an online open primary (which we covered elsewhere).

But hang on… Let’s take a step back. Why are the Greens putting forward two candidates for one job? Well, the Greens argue there should be gender balance across all the top spots in the EU, so they’ve decided to put forward one man and one woman for the role. Would they share an office? Merge signatures? Give press conferences by speaking together in creepy monophony? Exactly how these two candidates would divide a job originally designed for one person is being left strategically unanswered until a later date.

Who is José Bové?


Let’s start with José Bové, one half of the Green nomination.

He was born in Talence, France in 1953, and his career as a professional rabble-rouser has been nothing if not colourful. His first spell in prison was in 1976, when he spent three weeks in jail for the destruction of property at a French army base in protest at its expansion onto the Larzac plateau.

Despite the prison sentence, following his release Bové took part in a convoy of almost 100 tractors that occupied the base’s firing range. He was part of a growing commune of anarchists, pacifists and other malcontents squatting on land owned by the army, and their campaign against the French military managed to attract a lot of attention. Enough so that the army base was never expanded and Bové still has a cheese farm on the Larzac plateau.

The incident Bové is most famous for, however, is the trashing of a French branch of McDonald’s. He joined activists in dismantling the half-built McDonald’s restaurant in 1999; loading doors, walls and roof tiles into tractor carts and dumping them in front of the town hall in protest at US trade restrictions (including a 100 per cent surcharge on Roquefort cheese, which he himself farms). It might seem odd for an anti-globalization activist to be protesting against restrictive trade practices, but Bové argues he is not against globalization per se, but rather he wants to see a more democratically accountable and balanced global order.

In this sense, Bové isn’t so ideologically dissimilar to his co-candidate, Ska Keller. Both argue the current global system is unfair, and both would like to promote greater equality between rich and poor. Likewise, both campaign in favour of some aspects of globalization, including stronger rights for immigrants, whilst criticising the spread of technologies such as GMO crops (and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Bové has received several prison sentences for destroying fields of GMOs).

Who is Ska Keller?

BIO-Keller (2)

Franziska “Ska” Keller was born in 1981 and was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 at the age of 27. In many ways, Keller is the polar opposite of Bové. Whereas Bové is headstrong and a fiery advocate of direct action, Keller seems to prefer working within the rules through political dialogue and the ballot box. She was also apparently better suited to academic studies than Bové, having taken Islamic Studies, Turkology and Jewish Studies at the Free University Berlin as well as at the Sabanci Üniversitesi Istanbul (whereas Bové dropped out of university and joined a communal farm in the Pyrénées).

Keller grew up in Brandenburg, in the German town of Guben on the border with Poland. Before becoming an MEP, she was a board member for the German Young Greens, spokesperson and campaign coordinator for the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) and a spokesperson for the B90/The Greens in Brandenburg. Unlike Bové, she has not (yet) been imprisoned for “moral crimes” nor has she been refused an entry visa by the US. However, she also doesn’t have anything approaching Bové’s renown (or cult of fame) and she will have to work hard if she wants to build a Europe-wide public profile and not end up overshadowed by her walrus-moustached running mate.

Keller is also likely to be the youngest candidate and also the only woman taking part in the race. As she argued during the live online hangout we covered earlier, she’s not just “another old, white man”. It remains to be seen, however, if she will be able to “balance” the European Greens’ nomination by joining Bové’s radical green brand of politics with a more moderate voice. Whether she ends up as Commission Co-President or not, this nomination potentially gives her a platform to put forward her vision for Europe.

If you like the sound of José Bové and Ska Keller, you can vote for the  Greens in our Debating Europe Vote 2014. If not, stay tuned as we’ll be publishing profiles of their rival candidates over the coming weeks.

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!

31 comments Post a commentComment

  1. Paul X

    José Bové

    Convicted criminal and anarchists

    Brilliant choice, what a shining example to set the young people of Europe!

    No wonder the Greens are all considered barking mad

    • davewrites

      Bové is the best kind of criminal! One deemed to be so because he dared to stand up to the real criminals – the corporate-military complex.

    • C Martin

      This comment is unnaceptable

  2. Capitalist Blade

    Why do the Greens expect us to respect them with such candidates?

  3. catherine benning

    What a hodgepodge of joy and pain these two are.

    First question, do they intend to split the salary and perks of one into two? And likewise, use only one half of the expenses each? Or, is this the old fiddle of we are so wonderful as a team we should both see full two salaries, one for each.

    Now the second brand is, the one referred to as ‘another old white man,’ indicates the illegal propagation of racism. If he was another ‘old black man,’ would she dare to refer to him as that, whilst running for office? It appears abuse of his majority on European soil, white race, is considered by her to be acceptable. I bet she wouldn’t dare try that on with any other group of the darker set.

    As ‘the old white man’ is leading her by the nose, one has to also wonder if akin to other leading Frenchman, he is giving kudos to his romantic interest for us all as tax payers to fund his dream team.

    Their policies are a mixture of those they know appeal to the public, knitted in quietly with those the public despise or have no inclination for. Now that is how the crafty politicians sneak their damaging policies past the one eye closed people who vote for them.

    Anyone voting for these two need to look with a magnifying glass at the small print.

  4. Димитър Стоянов

    I didn’t know they can nominate two candidates. It dosen’t work that way. The idea is the person nominated by the party that will receive the most seats in the European Parliament to become President of the Commission and there’s only one President. So if we are to imagine that the Greens would be that party, who’s going to be President – Bove or Keller? So the Greens cheat – they know they woun’t win the election so they put forward two candidates – a man and a woman ir order to cover a broader spectrum of the voters. Oh, you, poor Greens – you alwas do it that way and thats the cheater’s way. Shame on you!

    • Bořivoj Filip

      These candidates were elected in European-wide online elections, where every EU citizen older than 16 and supporting green values could vote.

  5. HT

    So on the May 2014 elections we will not only vote for the MEPs representing our country in the European Parliament, but we’ll also get a 2nd paper with the names of the president candidates?

  6. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Olá Parlamento Europeu eu defendo o activismo dentro da Europa e também admiro muito o trabalho dos verdes da Europa Na minha opinião a escolha deste candidatos ao Parlamento Europeu é positiva

  7. Tarquin Farquhar

    One [no matter what her talents are] is too young to be in power the other is a criminal. BOTH are deluded GREEN party members.


    • C Martin

      If a person that defends the interest of society as a whole is deemed a criminal (Bové) I would like to see many more of those criminals and most of them in power!

    • zix

      She is too young and have no ideas other then building solar panels all around the world. If she gets elected I guess she will spend more time with childrens in Africa then in EU ..

  8. klassen

    I wish them both the best of luck..
    I hope they get a chance to do what they think they know how to do, but rumors have it that italy will need a bailout in the next two months, not a good prospect for the euro and brussels and with any luck we can all say goodby to the whole brussels circus.

    • Ricchard Garcia

      I think she is too young and without real work experience to be able to know what it is necessary to do to maintain the EU integrity and people jobs in collaborative environment and economic prosperity NOT like the current presidency

  9. friendofeurope

    When I started reading about why the Greens have two candidates, I was like “ahaa.. a logical and interesting choice” and then I read who Bove is and who Keller is.. Why would the Greens vote a guy that is considered an anarchist and from this description it seems that he has been just arguing for his own interests..On the other hand, Keller seems a good choice, a young rational woman who wants to work things out through political dialogue instead of breaking stuff..

  10. Pietro Moroni

    It looks like they aren’t even trying to have a good result in this election. I mean, wonderful people, amizing candidates (at least, Keller is amazing, the other one is just funny), but… come on, 2 candidates for a single-person-office? Are you even trying? And what about unemployment? Let’s hope they’ll eventually support Martin Schulz’s presidency, or any green vote would be a non-vote.

  11. Tarquin Farquhar

    If I had to choose (BOTH are NOT fit for office in my opinion) I would vote for she who was named after a Jamaican-music focussed pub rather than the ex-convict!

  12. zix

    No because she want to open doors to everyone from Africa etc LOL !!! She is a typical hippie.

    • Sorp

      tottaly true… I am not a racist, but I also can not every suffering human being on Earth,,,

  13. Niklas Ellsén

    The Commission is a too powerful institution for having a President;
    The Commission needs more active Citizens able to visualize the future of Europe.

    The Greens statement of a dual presidency is an excellent manifestation for the ongoing development in this direction.

    Europe is about the Citizens commission and the conscious participation in our human collective.

  14. Niklas Ellsén

    So the question is, how does the every day citizen sign up for participation in the European Commission?

  15. catherine

    who’s afraid of anarchists? sounds like an old play…

  16. Marlene Ellis

    Keller is very, very impressive

  17. Marlene Ellis

    Excellent on migration. Passionate.

  18. Fede

    Go Ska Keller! Smart, clever and beautiful. All my support!!!

  19. A

    It’s quite strange that the male candidate is allowed a few paragraphs to himself, but the female is constantly compared, berated and other points about the male candidate are in her section – biased much?

    She said old white men I think because there are a lack of young/other ethnicity/female,transgender candidates running politics. It is a shame this is not reality, this IS a democracy for the people, by the people, of the people is it not?
    It’s also a shame we are naturally suspicious of politicians, from what I see of the comments, there really is a huge flaw there. Shouldn’t they have voting out elections two every year in case our minds change/politician screws country? We should also have more control of our tax euros: few million for bridge to cul de sac( exists in the west of Germany) or prioritise education, something really needed in your area, money towards your potholed road to work ?

  20. John

    Keller is far too young and inexperienced, tell me a CEO of a major company who is 32. Also, the next president should have experience of working in the private sector rather than being career politicians, so any candidate who does not have this experience should be ruled out.

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