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EU’s Ursula von der Leyen faces busy days to secure new term


This happened in 2019 when another German centre-right politician, the Bavarian Manfred Weber, was unable to secure the required majority in the European Council after the European elections.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron then put forward von der Leyen as an alternative candidate.

The fact that the centre-right bloc, the European People’s Party (EPP), is currently represented in the European Council by 13 of the 27 national leaders suggests there will not be a similar drama this year.

Only three other major member states need to vote in favour of von der Leyen for her to to achieve the necessary qualified majority – for example, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and France’s Macron.

A big advantage for von der Leyen is that none of the other leading candidates for the commission presidency are considered to have a serious chance. These include the Luxembourgish social democrat Nicholas Schmit and the German Green politician Terry Reintke.

However, there is still some speculation that Macron could propose former Italian head of government Mario Draghi as an alternative to von der Leyen.

The second step would then be to unite a majority of members of the new parliament behind her in a secret ballot. To this end, von der Leyen and the EPP can rely on forging a stable alliance for their election by involving the Greens, social democrats and liberals.

The first positive signals came from the Greens and social democrats on Sunday evening. The Greens’ lead candidate, Terry Reintke, said she was prepared to negotiate. “We are a clear pro-European force, we want to be part of majorities and we will work on this in the coming weeks,” she explained.

“If we manage to present a common line with the other pro-European groups, if we say that the Green Deal will continue, the rule of law and democracy in the European Union will be defended, then we Greens are prepared to support Ursula von der Leyen as commission president.”

Rene Repasi, the chairman of Germany’s centre-left delegation to the European Parliament, was also open to supporting von der Leyen – albeit rather indirectly.

He said that there was absolutely no need for the EPP to form a coalition with far-right parties, presumably alluding to the fact that von der Leyen had not ruled out working with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her right-wing populist party Brothers of Italy before the election.

The liberals for their part said they were prepared to form a pro-European coalition to modernise the EU. However, their leader Valerie Hayer added, there were also some conditions to be met.



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