German political parties remain divided over von der Leyen's EU candidacy

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-16 19:39:09|Editor: xuxin
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Ursula von der Leyen, the German candidate for president of the European Commission, makes a statement at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 16, 2019. The European Parliament is due to vote on her nomination later Tuesday. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng)

BERLIN, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Shortly before the vote on the new European Commission President on Tuesday, former top candidate for the EU commission presidency Manfred Weber (CDU) called on members of the European Parliament to support Ursula von der Leyen's candidacy for the office.

"We do not need opposition, we need creative will now," Weber, who is also leader of the conservative EPP group in the European Parliament, told the German broadcaster ZDF.

The vote was about "preventing further crisis development" and ensuring stability in Europe, stressed the German conservative politician.

Ursula von der Leyen announced that she would be resigning from her post as German Minister for Defense following the elections in the European Parliament.

"Regardless of the outcome, I will resign as defense minister on Wednesday," the German defense minister wrote on Twitter on Monday.

In a letter sent to the members of the German armed forces, von der Leyen wrote that "the Chancellor has been informed of this step and will take the necessary steps for a responsible transition in the interests of the Bundeswehr and the security of Germany".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described von der Leyen's move as a strong signal with regard to the election in the European Parliament. "She has decided for herself that she also wants to do this with full verve. That pleases me. That is how I know her".

Von der Leyen was making it clear that she "has decided on a new stage in her life, that she naturally wants to do all she can to ensure that she becomes President of the Commission," Chancellor Merkel said during a visit to the eastern German city of Goerlitz.

Two weeks ago, Ursula von der Leyen was nominated by the leaders of the EU member states to take over the office of President of the European Commission from Jean-Claude Juncker. The decision received criticism from members of the European Parliament because von der Leyen had not run as a top candidate for her party, the Christian Democratic Union.

The chances for the German defense minister to gain the support of the European Parliament as new Commission President remained uncertain ahead of the vote on Tuesday evening in Brussels.

The Green Party in the European Parliament had already announced last week that they would vote no in the elections and were not persuaded by von der Leyen's pledges on climate change during her speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday morning.

"For her to have a chance of winning the support of a pro-European majority, credible and stronger pledges than those that have been on the table so far are needed," German member of the European Greens, Sven Giegold told the German Press Agency.

Likewise, the Left Party in the European Parliament had also already made it clear that it would not vote for von der Leyen.

Opposition to von der Leyen had also come from the German Social Democrats (SPD), whose former European Commission President top candidate Katarina Barley repeatedly stated that her party would not be voting for the German defense minister.

"The Council deliberately ran over Parliament," German SPD politician Barley told the ZDF in reference to the decision to nominate a person who had not run as top candidate during the European elections.

"It is about setting the course for the future," and the top candidate principle was a "very important part" of this, Barley stressed.

The deputy leader of the CDU, German Minister for Agriculture Julia Kloeckner, accused the SPD of "shameless behavior".

"It would be foolish if especially the SPD from Germany were to use dubious methods to prevent a German Commission President," German agricultural minister Kloeckner told the newspaper Rheinische Post.

CSU leader Markus Soeder also called on the SPD to support von der Leyen and put party tactical questions on the back burner in the election and act in the interests of Europe.

"This is the first time Germany has had the chance to take up this position," and the leader of the Bavarian conservatives stressed that he "very much hopes" that von der Leyen would receive the necessary votes in the European Parliament election.

Whether the Liberals in the European Parliament would support Ursula von der Leyen in the election was still unclear from the point of view, according to the leader of the German FDP Christian Lindner.

"The decisive factor will be whether it will provide more clarity with regard to the content. So far, von der Leyen has remained unclear and cloudy," Lindner told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group on Saturday.

The European Parliament will be voting on Tuesday evening in Brussels. Ursula von der Leyen would need an absolute majority in the first and only ballot in order to be elected for the office of European Commission President.

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