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Ursula von der Leyen facing 'secret vote' humiliation as EU career under threat


Ursula von der Leyen is desperately scrambling to gather support among MEPs as she faces a crucial vote that could torpedo her career in Brussels.

The German politician has chosen to stay away from the NATO summit in Washington this week, as she hits the phones to plea with EU lawmakers to back her candidacy for a second term as European Commission President.

Ms Von der Leyen is the choice of many of Europe’s national leaders to fill the prestigious post, but she needs a majority of MEPs to sanction her appointment.

MEPs will vote in a secret ballot in the coming days that will determine whether the German politician can reprise her former role.

She must get 361 out of the 720 votes to secure her second term as the EU’s top official.

However, because it is a secret ballot, there are no guarantees about how MEPs will actually vote.

A source close to the German politician told Politico: “You have to negotiate and hope they will honour their promise.”

An EU official claimed von der Leyen is having to give concessions to get lawmakers to back her.

They added, that as there are no guarantees, she has to court as many MEPs as she can, handing out political capital like sweets.

Ms Von der Leyen is hoping for as much support as possible from the centrist groups that backed her last time.

These include her own EPP, the centre-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D), and the liberal Renew — who collectively have almost 400 seats.

However, some MEPs within these blocs have gone on record as saying they will not vote for her.

This means Ms von der Leyen may need to secure votes from right wing groupings, such as the European Conservatives and Reformists – one of whose members is Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party.

The Italian prime minister has expressed fury at being sidelined from the discussions among Europe’s national leaders over appointments for the top EU jobs.

She abstained from endorsing Ms von der Leyen’s candidacy at a vote in the Council of the EU.

It is therefore not clear whether her MEPs will follow suit and abstain. Abstentions are worth the same as votes against in the Parliament ballot.

The EU has no backup plan, so could be plunged into a political crisis if Ms von der Leyen fails to get enough MEPs on her side.

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