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‘Overestimated herself’: German Social Democrats reject von der Leyen for EU Commission head

‘Overestimated herself’: German Social Democrats reject von der Leyen for EU Commission head
The Social Democratic Party, a member of Germany’s governing coalition, has issued a blistering letter arguing European Commission presidential candidate Ursula von der Leyen is unfit to lead.

Ahead of next Tuesday’s vote in the European Parliament to replace the commission’s executive, the Social Democrats said that von der Leyen, who is also the German defense minister, is an “inadequate and inappropriate candidate,” and accused her of “weak leadership” during her tenure as minister of defense.

“From the very beginning, she ... overestimated herself,” reads the letter, circulated on Friday and seen by Reuters, adding that the party (SPD) will not support her nomination next week.


Von der Leyen was proposed by the EU Council for the top spot in the commission earlier this month, and has since lobbied members of the European Parliament to back her confirmation. The Social Democrats belong to a coalition that holds 154 of the parliament’s 751 seats, which is by itself not sufficient to block von der Leyen’s nomination.

The SPD has previously made waves over the prospect of the defense minister’s elevation to commission president, with party leader Sigmar Gabriel threatening to pull out of Germany’s governing coalition – which includes Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party and the center-right Christian Social Union. Katarina Barley, another SPD leader, however, denied that the coalition was at any risk.

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Von der Leyen is expected to receive full backing from her own European People’s Party in next week’s vote, which will secure 182 votes, but she will need to earn another 193 in order to win the required majority.

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