Ursula von der Leyen elected to European Union's top job

Ursula von der Leyen elected to head European Commission

Ursual von der Leyen
The former German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen has been elected as the next EU Commission president, the first female to hold the position, in a secret ballot.

Despite not initially even being a lead candidate, she secured the presidency by nine votes and will replace Jean-Claude Juncker when he steps down on 31 October.

The Guardian reports that it is likely she will commence in the role on the same date that Boris Johnson, expected to become Britain’s prime minister, has said he will take the UK out of the EU with or without a deal.

Von der Leyen, who was born in Brussels, has seven children and trained as a gynaecologist before entering politics. She will be the first German in the job in more than 50 years.

“The trust you placed in me is confidence you placed in Europe,” von der Leyen said in a speech immediately after the vote. “Your confidence in a united and strong Europe, from east to west, from south to north. It is a big responsibility and my work starts now. Let us work together constructively.”

In a speech to the parliament Von der Leyen committed to ensuring full gender equality among the 28 commissioners whom she would lead.

“If member states do not propose enough female commissioners, I will not hesitate to ask for new names,” she said. “Since 1958 there have been 183 commissioners. Only 35 were women. That is less than 20%.”

While she won enough votes to secure a majority, she didn’t secure enough votes to make passing legislation through parliament easy.

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