Greens criticise von der Leyen over plan to not run as MEP

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The European Green Party sharply criticized Ursula von der Leyen for her plan to potentially stand for a second term as president of the European Commission without running for election in the European Parliament.

POLITICO last week reported how von der Leyen told her local branch of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the state of Lower Saxony that she won’t join a list of candidates running for a seat in the European Parliament in next year’s EU election.

However, von der Leyen may nevertheless become the center right’s lead candidate, or Spitzenkandidat, for re-election as Commission president — a decision that she “has not made” yet, according to an official close to von der Leyen, granted anonymity as they are not authorized to speak publicly.

In an emailed statement to POLITICO, the co-chairs of the European Green Party, which represents the pan-European grouping of national Green parties, lambasted von der Leyen for her decision.

“It would be an unacceptable denial of European democracy,” if confirmed, wrote the co-chairs, French Senator Mélanie Vogel and Austrian MEP Thomas Waitz. They added that “as a citizen, you have the right to know who your vote will put in power as the next President of the European Commission.”

If von der Leyen puts her name forward as Spitzenkandidat for her pan-European center-right European People’s Party (EPP) without running on a list in Germany, her name would indeed not appear on any election ballot.

Avoiding running on a list would likewise allow von der Leyen to sidestep a German election campaign, which could take considerable time and energy.

A Commission official, also granted anonymity due to not being authorized to speak publicly, told POLITICO that even if von der Leyen had decided to run for a seat in Parliament, her name would only have to appear on the ballot in the German state of Lower Saxony. That’s because the CDU’s European Parliament vote in Germany is run via state. In contrast, a potential campaign as EPP Spitzenkandidat would allow her to present herself to citizens across the Continent as the center-right candidate to lead the next Commission.

Vogel and Waitz urged von der Leyen to quickly clarify whether she intends to run as Spitzenkandidat: “She has to stop hiding.”

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