Ursula von der Leyen becomes first female President of the European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen becomes first female President of the European Commission

Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen has become the first female President of the European Commission.

She is also the first German to get the job for more than 50 years.

She replaces Jean-Claude Juncker as President, a position he had held since 2014.

733 votes were cast in a secret ballot, with 383 voting in favour of Ms von der Leyen and 327 voting against.

22 votes were in abstention and one vote was void.

While 374 votes were needed to secure a majority, her 383 votes are still below the threshold of 400, which would have given her a comfortable, stable majority to get her policies through parliament over the next five years.

Ms von der Leyen said she would be open to Brexit being delayed further “for a good reason” although she insisted the withdrawal agreement would not be renegotiated.

Ms von der Leyen’s emergence as EU leaders’ choice for the post two weeks ago had come as an unwelcome surprise to the Socialists and Democrats group, and even to some in the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), of which she is a member.

She had been nominated by the leaders after 50 hours of arduous negotiations.

Opposition to Ms von der Leyen’s candidacy appeared to melt away after a 30-minute speech on Tuesday morning (local time) in which she made a series of left-leaning pledges to win over the socialists and stressed the importance of her being the first woman to be nominated by the heads of state and government.

In her biggest cross-party promise to MEPs, she said she would allow the Parliament the right to propose legislation.

Ms von der Leyen, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, becomes the first German commission president since Walter Hallstein served from 1958 to 1967.

Ms von der Leyen will replace Mr Juncker as President when he steps down on 31 October.

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