Europe’s unelected leader

Ursula von der Leyen’s coronation is an insult to democracy.

spiked

Share

Ursula von der Leyen has been confirmed as the next president of the EU Commission, winning a vote in the European Parliament by 383 to 327.

But despite the involvement of MEPs, the process that put von der Leyen in place was nothing short of a coronation. MEPs were today presented with a single candidate and offered only the choice to accept or reject her in a secret ballot. Von der Leyen, a former defence minister in Angela Merkel’s government, is among the most unpopular politicians in Germany. Fortunately for her, popularity is not an issue for unelected Eurocrats.

The EU elections held in May had no bearing on this result. As the elections were taking place, voters were led to believe that the EU Commission president would be decided by the so-called Spitzenkandidat (or lead-candidate) process, whereby the candidate leading the electoral bloc with the most parliamentary seats would be the favourite to head the Commission. Though you could be forgiven for missing it, candidates for each of the major groupings ran campaigns and even took part in TV debates.

But the Spitzenkandidat system was always a sham. Established in 2014, it was a feeble attempt to add some democratic gloss to the inevitable selection of Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission president. Legally, the European Council always retained the final say on who to nominate for the job. With the appointment of von der Leyen, the EU has abandoned any pretence of democratic influence over its governing structures.

Von der Leyen was nominated for the job six weeks after the elections took place. After around 50 hours of behind-closed-doors horsetrading, we the people learned that Germany’s defence minister was going to take on the role. Since then, she has had just two weeks (and just one parliamentary speech) to persuade MEPs to back her ‘programme’ for the next five years of her rule. But her successful appointment was never really in doubt.

Von der Leyen’s coronation is an important reminder that the EU is a democracy-free zone. The sooner this bureaucracy crumbles, the better.

Picture by: Getty.

Help spiked fight the New Normal

It’s six months since the UK lockdown began and how many people you have round your house is still a police matter. New restrictions continue to be introduced without proper parliamentary scrutiny. Meanwhile, protests are banned and Covid Marshals are being hired to patrol a high street near you. spiked exists to fight for freedom and we will continue to challenge the illiberal New Normal. But to do so we need your help. Unlike so many things these days, spiked is completely free. We rely on the generosity of our readers to keep us going. So if you already donate to us, thank you! And if you don’t, please do consider making a donation today. One-off donations – or better yet, monthly donations – are hugely appreciated. You can find out more here. Thank you!

Donate now

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.