The European Parliament on Tuesday elected Ursula von der Leyen as the next president of the European Commission — the first woman to hold the EU’s top executive job.
Von der Leyen, from the center-right European People’s Party, served most recently as German defense minister and is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel. She will be the first German to lead the EU in more than a half-century, since Walter Hallstein served from 1958 to 1967.
Von der Leyen won 383 votes in a secret ballot, just slightly above the absolute majority of 374 she required to be elected — and far short of the 422 votes cast in favor of current Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014. There were 327 votes in opposition, 22 abstentions and one vote declared invalid.
Some EU officials said failing to cross the politically significant threshold of 400 votes signaled that von der Leyen would face an extremely difficult task governing in partnership with a Parliament that is more diverse and divided than at any other point in the EU’s modern history.
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