Ursula von der Leyen elected European Commission president

The German politician will be the Commission's first female president and will replace outgoing president Jean-Claude Juncker 

The German defence minister was elected by the European Parliament by a slim majority
The German defence minister was elected by the European Parliament by a slim majority

Ursual von der Leyen was narrowly elected president of the European Commission by the European Parliament on Tuesday.

She will replace outgoing president Jean-Claude Juncker on the 1 November and will the commission’s first female president.

Von der Leyen was  approved in a secret ballot by 383 votes in favour and 327 against, with 22 MEPs abstaining. She required 374 to reach the threshold to be elected.

The German defence minister was nominated for the job by the leaders of the EU’s  member states earlier this month in what has proved to be a controversial nomination given that she was not one of the lead candidates put forward by the EU’s political groupings.

Von der Leyen was most recently Germany’s defense minister and is considered to be close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel and  also had the backing of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat congratulated von der Leyen, saying that Malta looked forward to continue engaging with the Commission on shaping a "future proof European Union".

Addressing MEPs following the vote, Von der Leyen said she was honoured and overwhelmed at the trust placed in her.

“The trust you placed in me is confidence you placed in Europe,” she said. “Your confidence in a united and a strong Europe from east to west, from south to north. Your confidence in a Europe that is ready to fight for the future rather than fighting against each other. Your confidence in a Europe that will take the big challenges of our times together."

The European Greens, as well as right-wing and left-wing parties had declared their intention to vote against Von der Leyen’s nomination before the vote.

She did however have the backing of the European People’s Party, the Socialists and Democrats and the liberals.

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