Germany’s defence minister, Dr Ursula von der Leyen, secured a narrow majority win in the European Parliament on Tuesday to replace incumbent Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission. She received 383 out of 747 possible votes, just nine more than the minimum for her election.
Ms von der Leyen will be the first German to lead the EU executive branch in more than 50 years, since the creation of the modern European Union.
“I feel so honoured and I am overwhelmed. The task ahead humbles me,” she said after her historic election.
Earlier in the day, von der Leyen, who will assume office on 1 November, had issued a wide array of policy promises in a speech in the European Parliament, ranging from climate change to youth job creation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated von der Leyen, calling her a “committed European” who would “tackle with great vigour the challenges facing us as the European Union.”
Meanwhile, von der Leyen stepped down as Germany’s defence minister on Wednesday and has been replaced by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the chairman of the CDU, the senior partner in the governing coalition.