Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen voted first female European Commission President

World Today

Former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen made history on Tuesday by becoming the European Commission’s first-ever female president.

But swaying the 747 eligible members of the European Parliament wasn’t so easy.

CGTN’s Mariam Zaidi recaps how the vote played out.

374 – The magic number needed to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker at the EU Commission.

But the former German defence minister Ursula von Der Leyen did it with 383 votes in favor.

Ahead of Tuesday evening’s secret ballot at the European Parliament, as Ursula von der Leyen called for a stronger, gender-balanced and greener Europe, her prospects did not appear too rosy.

“I want Europe to become the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050. To make this happen, we must take bold steps together, to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 by 50 if not 55 percent,” von der Leyen said.

For the Greens in the Parliament, the devil was in the lack of detail.

“Good will and general intentions are not enough. We need a fierce determination to change course, even if it strikes the interests of those who defend the status quo. You will understand that in these conditions the Greens are not ready today to entrust you with the rudder of the Union,” Phillipe Lamberts, Green Party Co-President, said.

There are also mixed reviews when she spoke about Brexit.

“I stand ready for further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required for a good reason,” von der Leyen said.

Also, far-right Eurosceptics, right-wing nationalists and far-left MEPs are among groups not supporting von der Leyen.

“More than 800 billion euros is the check that the European Union makes every year to tax evaders, you are their candidate, Mrs von der Leyen, we prefer to tear it up rather than vote for you.” Manon Aubry from Far-left MEP said.

But von der Leyen managed to cobble together a majority of Parliament’s three largest parties – the European People’s Party, the liberal “Renew Europe” and Socialists.

Von der Leyen has squeaked over the line with just 9 votes. Even her predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker managed to get 422 votes from a maximum of 729.

But no matter the fine margins, Ursula von de Leyen takes her place in history as the first woman at the helm of the European Commission.