Bear in mind the Social Democratic Get together’s (SPD) marketing campaign poster from the European elections in 2014? “A German will solely develop into president of the European Fee in the event you elect Martin Schulz and the SPD,” it learn. On the time, Schulz was the celebration’s main candidate all through Europe. The message, although, was addressed squarely at German voters.
Practically 5 years later, a German will certainly be heading the European Fee — however with out the SPD’s assist. Germany’s center-left Social Democrats within the European Parliament refused to vote for Ursula von der Leyen, a center-right Christian Democrat who, till yesterday, was additionally the German protection minister. That’s, if one can imagine their proclamations. The vote in parliament, in any case, was a secret poll.
Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of the European voters is sort of clearly satisfied that nobody nation ought to reign supreme over another. The standard of a Fee president is not measured by that particular person’s land of origin, however by what that particular person says and does. Case and level: Professional-European events gained greater than two-thirds of the votes within the Might election.
However after all, a candidate’s nationality is not completely meaningless both. The truth that Germany will get to nominate the top of the Fee for the primary time since Walter Hallstein within the 1950s and 1960s is actually excellent news.
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Good Information All Round
It is excellent news for Europe as a result of Ursula von der Leyen is a real, dyed-in-the-wool European.
And it is good for Germany as a result of as protection minister, von der Leyen was merely within the improper workplace. Europe fits her a lot better. Her story may even encourage extra individuals to determine with the EU.
It is an added bonus that von der Leyen will type one half of a Franco-German duo on the coronary heart of the EU, with Christine Lagarde as the brand new head of the European Central Financial institution making up the opposite half.
Von der Leyen gained Tuesday’s election by a slender margin of solely 9 votes. She might have drawn assist from Hungarian parliamentarians loyal to that nation’s authoritarian chief, Viktor Orbán. Staunch pro-Europeans just like the Greens or the aforementioned members of the SPD, nonetheless, denied her their votes.
Does that make von der Leyen a worse president? Or worse, a president in debt to Orbán? No. It could be intellectually lazy for individuals who did not vote for von der Leyen to complain that she wasn’t their selection.
What’s vital is what von der Leyen says — and what she does.
Actions Communicate Louder Than Phrases
She had already delivered a powerful oratorical efficiency on Tuesday together with her software speech. Certainly, she created a European second, articulating her emotions and positioning herself squarely in opposition to the hazard from the populist proper. “It is essentially the most valuable factor now we have,” von der Leyen stated. On the finish, she exclaimed: “Es lebe Europa, vive l’Europe, lengthy dwell Europe!”
It was good to listen to such an emotional speech.
As a result of even when von der Leyen is simply prosaically the boss of a European mega-administrative physique, maybe she’s going to nonetheless achieve filling this technocratic workplace with political temperament.
Ursula von der Leyen should let her actions communicate louder than her phrases. She should work internally to mood the divisions being stoked by right-wing populists. And she or he’ll should work externally to strengthen Europe as a mannequin of democracy on the planet. The problems on the forefront embody migration coverage, social safety, the unfair distribution of wealth and European sovereignty. To call just a few.
Her speech on Tuesday prevented these on the far proper of the European political spectrum from taking credit score for her election, as Hungary’s Orbán had tried to do following her nomination by the leaders of the EU member state. It was a defeat for the far-right. And likewise Germany’s Social Democrats.
A Sigh of Reduction
The truth that the center-leftists could not carry themselves to vote for his or her former Christian Democratic colleague, from a authorities which they run collectively, was nothing in need of political pettiness.
Had been they so hooked up to the main candidate mannequin that they voted in opposition to von der Leyen out of precept? In that case, why did not they combat for the conservative prime European Individuals’s Get together candidate, Manfred Weber, who had represented the victorious celebration household? Even Frans Timmermans the Dutch main candidate for the social democrats within the European Parliament, signaled his assist for von der Leyen whereas his SPD comrades had been nonetheless voicing their opposition.
In reality, the SPD had maneuvered itself right into a strategic deadlock from which it was unable to get out of in time. The Social Democrats had been very fortunate that von der Leyen’s election did not fail due to them. It was shut sufficient because it was. There have been various individuals within the SPD who breathed a sigh of reduction when the outcomes of the election had been introduced.
Sadly, these individuals aren’t members of the European Parliament.