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German conservative voted lead candidate for top EU job

Manfred Weber of Germany delivers his speech during the European People's Party (EPP) congress in Helsinki, Finland, Thursday Nov. 8, 2018. The EPP, the group uniting Europe's center-right parties, has been wringing its hands over whether to keep Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Fidesz in the fold or cut them loose before European Parliament elections in May. (Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva via AP)

HELSINKI (AP) — German conservative politician Manfred Weber has won the race to lead the European Union’s center-right parties into key EU elections in May.

Weber was endorsed with 492 of 619 valid votes Thursday at a European People’s Party Congress in Helsinki, ahead of former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb.

The 46-year-old Bavarian conservative will also be the candidate of the EPP — the most powerful group in the European Parliament — to be the next president of the European Commission.

The EU’s executive arm proposes and enforces the bloc’s laws. The current presidents of the EU commission, parliament and council are EPP members.

But all EU leaders must choose the next commission chief and Weber is not guaranteed to get the job. Germans hold many senior EU positions.

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