Social, environmental, feminist credibilityUrsula von der Leyen accomplished all this, managing to get the support to become the next president of the European commission by a slim majority of just 9 votes. To the dismay of many of her conservative peers, the staunch feminist highlighted the importance of social and environmental policies, and confidently underscored the need for gender equality. Her brightest idea, however, was surely to hold her speech in three European languages. She spoke in French about the feeling of a revived EU emboldened by greater citizen participation. She chose English to talk facts and express demands, such as for higher taxes on major corporations, and for genuine gender equality. And lastly, von der Leyen addressed MEPs in German, emotionally arguing why she, born in Brussels, is the right fit for the bloc's top job.
Second-best choiceIt's no secret that von der Leyen was not the favorite for the job. She knew she would have to fight this disadvantage with finesse and thoroughness, casting herself in the perfect light. She could have failed — but she surprised everyone and turned her disadvantage into an advantage. She gave anti-Europeans and those who reject the system the cold shoulder, easily countering their provocations. She must stick to this course with determination and close the right flank. While none of this guarantees a successful European Commission presidency, it is a good start — and a good day for the European Parliament, which had a genuine democratic choice.
Read more: Who is Ursula von der Leyen?
The biggest losers are the German Social Democratic MEPs. Until the very end, they stressed the importance of sticking to one's principles and insisted that only a lead candidate ("Spitzenkandidat") should get to run for the EU's top job. It seemingly did not matter to them that none of those candidates could command a majority. Or that the EU would have descended into a serious crisis if von der Leyen had not won.
The European Parliament has spoken. And decided, once again, that politics is the art of the possible.
Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.