Suspense over von der Leyen vote in EU Parliament

Before what looks set to be a knife-edge vote on her bid to become EU Commission President, the German candidate Ursula von der Leyen has given a speech in the EU Parliament aimed at securing its support. She focused on climate protection, the minimum wage and migration. For or against von der Leyen - which way should the parliamentarians vote?

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Small-minded and backward-looking

The daily paper Handelsblatt is outraged to see Germany's SPD and Greens leading the campaign against von der Leyen's candidacy:

“The small-mindedness of the SPD ... consists in making such a big deal about procedural issues in the lead candidate process, as if the two lead candidates would be up for election once more if von der Leyen loses the vote. That is backward-looking. And the Greens aren't looking forward either: they consider the candidate unelectable because she doesn't support a purely green agenda. ... Would other EPP candidates defend the causes they care about more fiercely than von der Leyen: climate protection, joint solutions to the migration issue, strengthening the European Parliament and the rule of law in all the member states of the EU, including the Eastern European ones?”

Le Soir (BE) /

Don't betray principles yet again

Paul Magnette and Raphaël Glucksmann, the lead candidates of the social democratic parties in Belgium and France in the European elections, defend their negative stance towards von der Leyen:

“Voting against her has nothing to do with capriciousness or dogmatism. It is rather the only way to remind people that political commitments matter. It is doubtless better for us to get into an institutional impasse than to sacrifice yet again the democratic principles and the social and ecological goals for which we asked citizens for a mandate. Our actions as parliamentarians must finally be brought in line with our campaign promises. Politics must finally regain its splendour. And we must finally find a more lofty goal for Europe once more.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Von der Leyen must take a clear stance

Dagens Nyheter considers the demands that Social Democrats and Liberals are making of von der Leyen to be absolutely justified:

“The Parliament should be given more power, and it is about policy issues, for example the climate. What is most important, however, is the Commission's work to defend the rule of law in those countries of Eastern Europe whose governments are attacking the rule of law. Social Democrats and Liberals are calling on Ursula von der Leyen to pledge that as head of the Commission she will work to end the attacks on democracy.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

The Social Democrats are the losers

The Social Democrats are faced with a gigantic dilemma, concludes Andrea Bonanni of La Repubblica:

“The Social Democratic group is faced with two alternatives and can only lose either way. It could agree to vote for a Commission President who does not identify with the pro-European political majority in the Parliament and will not reject the right-wing anti-EU votes, as Juncker did four years ago. Or it could split and attempt to prevent von der Leyen's appointment. Yet that would mean leaving it to the anti-European forces to fill the most important post in the EU. They will definitely guarantee the election of Merkel's candidate. It would be a resounding political success for Salvini and the Visegrád Group, and they would not hesitate to demand favours in return.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Revenge of the right

NRC Handelsblad explains why Ursula von der Leyen can count on support from anti-European populists:

“Observers in Brussels believe that the support from Salvini and the group of European Conservatives and Reformists is purely about revenge, given that the Liberals, the Greens and the Social Democrats systematically exclude their parliamentarians from nominations for important posts in the newly constituted Parliament. So they might rescue von der Leyen's nomination purely out of resentment. If she is not elected, then the heads of government will have to put forward a new name in a climate of even more mistrust. A political nightmare.”

Sme (SK) /

Parliament is not a voting machine

Although Ursula von der Leyen fulfils all the requirements to head the EU Commission, the EU parliamentarians should reject her as a matter of principle, believes Sme:

“It is not about von der Leyen as an individual. It is about the opaque manner in which she was nominated, bypassing the EU Parliament, which is to become simply a voting machine that consents to everything the heads of state and heads of government propose. ... At a time when authoritarians are taking power in some countries, the EU Parliament has a clear democratic and pro-European majority. That is why it is in the interest of the entire Union if the Parliament makes precisely that very clear right from the beginning.”

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Macron wins the EU battle for posts

Élet és Irodalom concludes that French President Macron will have won if the EU Parliament accepts von der Leyen:

“Von der Leyen was merely a trump card in Macron's poker game when it came to filling the EU's top positions. His main goal was to have a person agreeable to him heading the ECB. And that person is Christine Lagarde, as she stands for fiscal policy similar to that of outgoing ECB President Draghi, whom Macron values highly. ... While Macron seems likely to achieve all his goals, the political interests of all the others will be satisfied as well. The EPP can be glad that the commission president will be one of their group; the liberal group close to Macron can be happy that Charles Michel will be President of the Council; Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez, in turn, who supports Macron, can be satisfied that Josep Borrell will be the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs.”