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Von der Leyen wins 2nd term as splits egame and fishmerge

otonic chiplet Taichi on artific | game and fish | Updated: 2024-07-23 13:14:10

Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen secured her second five-year term in office after winning the vote in the European Parliament on Thursday, just a day after she lost a court case relating to the bloc's COVID-19 vaccine purchase contracts.

The 65-year-old won 401 votes in a secret ballot in Strasbourg, well above the 361 votes required in the 720-seat parliament.

Von der Leyen received support from her European People's Party, the largest political group in the parliament, as well as the Socialists and Democrats, the Renew Europe group and the Greens, whose endorsement came as a surprise to many observers.

She raised both fists in victory as European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, who was reelected on Tuesday, announced the result.

In a media conference afterward, von der Leyen expressed her gratitude for the 401 votes in her favor.

"It was eight votes above the necessary majority. This time, it is 41, so this is much better," she said, recalling the 2019 vote in the parliament.

For days before the vote, von der Leyen had conducted intensive closed-door meetings with the main political groups to win their support.

In her speech on Thursday morning, she tried to appeal to the Greens by renewing a pledge on the European Union's ambitious Green Deal, which is seen to be losing momentum. She also catered to the demands of other groups.

In a message sent just before the vote, the Greens/European Free Alliance said they had formally decided to back von der Leyen as president.

"As part of the four-party majority, we have secured commitments on the EU Green Deal, making the EU more socially fair and protecting democracy," the group said.

The European Conservatives and Reformists, of which Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy is the largest party, said a significant majority of national delegations within the group had confirmed they would vote against von der Leyen.

Wide range of views

The vote on Thursday afternoon came after members of the European Parliament, or MEPs, debated her candidacy, with a range of views expressed.

Lynn Boylan, an MEP from Ireland, called out what she claimed was von der Leyen's hypocrisy over Israel in the debate.

"Why are the lives of Palestinians not entitled to the same human rights, the same international laws, the same humanity?" she said.

"Today Ursula von der Leyen cobbled together enough votes to be reelected as Commission President," Alberto Alemanno, a professor of EU Law at HEC Paris business school, wrote on X.

"Yet this thin, ideologically inconsistent majority offer the next EU Commission a permanent support to pursue its self-imposed long list of political priorities? MEPs won't be able — nor willing — to hold (her) accountable on her irreconcilable promises."

Von der Leyen said that in the coming weeks, she will ask leaders of the 27 member states to submit their candidates to be commissioners. "Once again, I will aim for an equal share of men and women at the College table," she added.

Thursday's vote came the day after the General Court of the EU ruled against the Commission's decision to redact large parts of the COVID-19 contracts before making them available.

The Left group of the European Parliament had called for the presidential vote to be postponed, citing the court ruling and saying the vote should be adjourned until relevant documents have been disclosed by the commission.

Manon Aubry and Martin Schirdewan, co-chairs of the Left group, said the court decision "further proves that Ursula von der Leyen lacks a moral compass when it comes to transparency or integrity".


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