Von der Leyen, clever political sidestep or dead man walking?

Meloni holds up a drowning von der Leyen (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)


Right-wingers have for the last year talked, more in hope than in earnest, about a swing to the Right in the European Parliament following next week’s elections.

Some Euro MPs even admitted – off the record – that the most likely outcome was in fact no change i.e. another centrist majority based on the Socialist Group and the European People’s Party.

But just days before the vote, a right-wing majority looks increasingly likely.

And confirmation of this probability has come from the most unlikely source: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

In her somewhat desperate search for re-appointment, von der Leyen has openly flirted with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the lead player in the assembly’s right-of-centre European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.

This has infuriated the Socialists, the Liberals, and the Greens, many of whom have been VdL’s allies. All have now threatened to dump her.

“Political agreements with Giorgia Meloni’s hard-right are not an option,” said Valérie Hayer, leader of the European Parliament’s Renew (Liberal) group.

 “We will never cooperate nor form a coalition with the far right!” said the Socialists in a statement. “You can be sure that not only are we excluding forming a majority if the ECR is on board, but we are also going to put pressure on the other groups,” said Terry Reintke, lead candidate for the Greens.

Does the German bureaucrat know which way the wind is blowing? Or is she making a big miscalculation?

Either way, she seems to be burning her bridges.

While 99 per cent of European citizens will remain totally oblivious to the machinations of the assembly’s political groups, a right-wing majority in the European Parliament would be big news in Brussels.

It has never occurred in the assembly’s history, and the ramifications are therefore difficult to predict. 

Question number one: will von der Leyen survive under the new order?

Elements of the ECR group and the European People’s Party might back her, but the hard-right Identity and Democracy group probably will not, in part because they are mainly in the Ukraine ‘pro-peace’ camp.

VdL rightward sidestep is either a brilliant political ploy or the last trick of a woman whose career has come to a dead-end.