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EPP elects von der Leyen as top candidate

Ursula von der Leyen is the official candidate of the European political party family EPP for a second term as President of the EU Commission.

The German CDU politician was formally nominated at a congress in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Thursday. 400 EPP delegates voted in favor of von der Leyen's top candidacy, 89 voted against. There were no opposing candidates.

The post of President of the European Commission must be filled after the elections to the European Parliament in June. As a rule, a candidate from the European party family that performs best in the European elections is appointed. So far, the Christian-conservative EPP is clearly ahead in the polls. There is therefore a good chance that von der Leyen will be able to remain in office.

Von der Leyen begins election campaign

In a speech at the congress, von der Leyen named the fight for peace, security, freedom and prosperity as a focus for her election campaign. "The signal from Bucharest today is that the EPP stands for Europe, for a strong, secure, peaceful, prosperous, democratic and united Europe," said the 65-year-old.

With regard to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, she emphasized that the aim was to continue to help Kiev - for "as long as necessary". Moscow had "tried to sweep Ukraine out of the world". She reiterated that the EPP supports the plan to create a new post of Commissioner for Defense in the future Commission.

Still at the table of the powerful?

As President of the EU Commission since December 1, 2019, von der Leyen is the head of around 32,000 employees who, among other things, make proposals for new EU laws and monitor compliance with the European Treaties. The 65-year-old also sits at the table as the EU representative at almost all major international summits such as the G7 and G20. The US magazine "Forbes" recently named von der Leyen the "most powerful woman in the world" again.

Before moving to Brussels, von der Leyen was most recently Minister of Defense under the then Chancellor Angela Merkel. The mother of seven children also holds a doctorate in medicine and has also served as Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Minister of Labor and Minister of Social Affairs in Lower Saxony.

Berlin's support is considered secure

In addition to the German CDU and CSU, the Austrian ÖVP, the Italian Forza Italia and Spain's conservative People's Party (PP) also belong to the European EPP party family.

Members of the European Parliament in particular are still sceptical about von der Leyen. One reason for this is that the German was nominated for the post by the heads of state and government in 2019, even though she was not previously the lead candidate of a party family for the post. In the view of parliamentarians, the European Council thus violated the so-called Spitzenkandidaten system, which stipulates that only top party candidates in the European elections should be considered for the post of President of the European Commission.

For the Christian Democrats, this was the CSU politician Manfred Weber. In the end, however, he was unable to unite a majority of the heads of state in the European Council behind his election.

It is considered certain that the German government, consisting of the SPD, Greens and FDP, would not oppose von der Leyen if the Christian Democrats were to become the strongest political force in the EU again in the European elections in June. One of the reasons for this is that otherwise a candidate from another EU country would be chosen.

©Keystone/SDA

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