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ROME - For sure, German politician Ursula von der Leyen isn’t exactly taking office as the first female leader of the European Union under the best of circumstances.
To tick off just a few less-than-auspicious realities, the UK is about to name a prime minister determined to exit the EU even without a formal agreement, the new European parliament contains a record share of Euro-skeptics, and her six-year tenure as Germany’s defense minister is under a cloud due to allegations of improperly awarding bids to outside contractors.
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Moreover, von der Leyen only won the job last Tuesday by nine votes out of 733 cast, in part because of objections over how she became a contender in the first place.
In advance of the 2019 race, European politicians of all stripes vowed their next leader would be one of the Spitzenkandidaten, meaning the candidate declared publicly by each of the major parties. Instead, von der Leyen is a classic product of a backroom deal. A protégé of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and never among the declared candidates for the job, her selection was a product of a deal worked out behind closed doors between Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron and then endorsed by their allies in the European parliament.
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Nigel Farage, the hardline anti-EU British politician who led his Brexit party to a first-place finish in the UK’s European elections in May, sniffed on twitter after Tuesday’s vote that von der Leyen has “power but no legitimacy.”
Granted, Farage has ideological reasons for being dismissive, but few people seem to regard the result as meaning much. Here’s how “Time” summed it up, under the heading of “One Thing to Say about It at a Dinner Party”:
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“Ursula von der Leyen is more of the same. That’s not what a waning Europe actually needs right now… but...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Crux
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