Ursula von der Leyen's Election Campaign Got Off to a Rocky Start

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.14 - 2024 8:17 AM CET

Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
Ursula von der Leyen's election campaign for head of the European Commission got off to a rocky start.

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"The campaign battles have already begun," reports Politico.

Even without a campaign manager yet appointed for her bid for a second term as European Commission President, von der Leyen is already navigating through campaign battles.

Shortly after being nominated as the conservative camp's "leading candidate" for the European Parliament elections in June, von der Leyen has already fended off two serious challenges from potential allies.

The early attacks mark a difficult start to the election campaign for the European Commission chief, who has been recognized for her leadership during significant crises like the pandemic, the economic downturn, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Politico writes that her quasi-governmental style even earned her the nickname " Queen von der Leyen" among Brussels insiders.

Despite a strong kickoff to her campaign with a speech in Budapest criticizing Marine Le Pen's National Union for its ties with Putin, von der Leyen's campaign has yet to name a political leader.

Her campaign's X account is underutilized, with fewer than 3,000 followers compared to more than 1.5 million on her main account.

French industrialist Thierry Breton, associated with von der Leyen's Commission, launched an early critique, questioning her support within her party and suggesting it was time for the European People's Party to reconsider its long-standing dominance in the EU.

The critique, which reportedly angered French President Emmanuel Macron, has positioned von der Leyen as a target for political scrutiny.

After that, another potential ally, EPP leader Manfred Weber brought up another challenge that could cause more issues soon.

Just days after his squad nominated von der Leyen as its front-runner in the European elections, Weber ordered them to sign a cross-party legal challenge in parliament accusing the European Commission of a decision to give Hungary 10 billion euros of EU funds that had been frozen due to problems related to the rule of law in the country.

Von der Leyen's office was the one that agreed to give Hungary the money, despite objections from all major parties in the European Parliament, including her own EPP.

The European Parliament elections will happen across the EU from June 6 to 9, 2024. These will be the tenth elections since the first one in 1979.

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