Nomination of von der Leyen for top EU position criticized in Germany

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-03 18:59:32|Editor: Xiaoxia
Video PlayerClose

BERLIN, July 3 (Xinhua) -- The nomination of Germany's defense minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) as candidate for the European Commission presidency has been criticized in Germany on Wednesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner, the social democratic party (SPD), refused to support the decision so that Germany had to abstain from the vote on von der Leyen.

Katarina Barley, who was the SPD's top candidate in the European elections, sharply criticized the nomination. "This is not the promise made to the citizens before the election," Barley told German broadcasters ARD and ZDF.

In a joint statement, the SPD leaders Malu Dreyer, Manuela Schwesig and Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel also criticized that von der Leyen had not been a top candidate in the European elections at the end of May.

The process "cannot convince", the SPD leaders explained. "This would make the attempt to democratize the European Union absurd."

Germany's liberal party (FDP) also stressed that the nomination was against election principles. "You cannot present certain politicians to the citizens and conjure someone completely different out of the hat after the election," said Marco Buschmann, head of the FDP parliamentary group.

Following a standstill in the personal debate for Jean-Claude Juncker's successor as president of the European Commission, media reported that French President Emmanuel Macron had suggested von der Leyen as a possible candidate.

Von der Leyen spent the first 12 years of her life in Brussels and speaks English and French. She has seven children and has held positions in the German government as labor and family affairs minister, before Merkel appointed her Germany's first female defense minister in 2013.

Hinting at recent problems with external consultants and material problems in von der Leyen's defense ministry, Martin Schulz (SPD), former president of the European parliament, said that von der Leyen was "our weakest minister."

Germany's green party also rejected the Brussels personnel deal as "grotesque". "We don't need the lowest common denominator that satisfies personal interests and party politics," said Ska Keller, co-faction leader from Germany. "This is not what European citizens deserve."

"This plan is quite audacious and will hopefully be stopped by the EU Parliament", SPD vice leader Ralf Stegner added.

The European parliament is expected to cast a final vote later this month.