This summer’s peak heat in Europe has somehow coincided with heated political discussions across the Old World. The controversy arose from the fact that the recent attempt to appoint a new EU leader have unveiled the fact the European-style democracy doesn’t differ that much from the much frowned upon American-style democracy.
As Brussels’ old guard gradually leaves the stage, they argue that the undemocratic practices that have become common during their time within the EU must become a thing of the past. However, the recent controversy in Strasbourg has shown that we can confidently expect the same old act from the European elites.
Like thieves, under the guise of night, European unelected bureaucrats chose the candidate that would replace the departing president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker that is now going to be replaced by Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen. Obviously those forces that received the majority of votes during the latest European Parliament elections had no say in this matter. Speaking to media representatives at the closure of the three day long Strasbourg summit, Donald Tusk seemed extremely contended with the fact that they’ve managed to replace the entire head of the EU without asking anybody’s opinion.
It’s particularly noteworthy that this silent coup occurred on the back of a series of “democratic reforms” that were supposedly designed to make the EU a bit more democratic. The changes to the existing rules that were introduced in 2014 stipulate that upon choosing a new head of the European Commission the unelected bureaucracy of the EU must give priority to the candidate of the political force that received a majority on the preceding elections in the European Parliament.
The unexpected accession of the sitting Federal Minister of Defence to the leading position in the European Commission was so controversial that even German political forces would express no delight over this development. The leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Minister-President of Bavaria, Markus Soder has already pointed out that Manfred Weber would have made a perfectly legitimate president of the European Commission, but he fell victim of the behind-the-scenes trickery just like the overall transparency of EU institutions did.
In turn, the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany, that is a part of the ruling coalition, would vocally oppose the nomination of Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen to the highest post in the EU. The press-release that this party made public states that this decision to nominate Ursula nullifies all the efforts that were made on the road to strengthening democracy in Europe, the steps that were necessary to better protect the best interests of European citizens and strengthen the role of the European Parliament are now all but in jeopardy.
What is particularly disturbing is that nobody can even tell what are the ideas that Ursula von der Lyayen may decide to promote in her new post! And how the unelected bureaucracy of the EU is going to sell this decision to the European public that didn’t vote for Ursula because she didn’t even care enough to run for the European Parliament. The only thing that one can tell about her is that she’s overtly Russophobic and doesn’t make a secret out of her attempts to please Washington. But it seems those are by far the most valuable qualities a politician can possess from the point of view of Brussels.
So how did Ursula von der Lyayen made the cut for this nomination?
Well, she’s a daughter of a prominent German politician from the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), Ernst Albrecht that studied economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. From there she proceeded to studying medicine at the Medical School in Hanover, and since 1992 she would occupy the position of an assistant doctor in the gynecological department of the University Hospital of Hanover. However, when her doctoral dissertation became an object of scrutiny in 2016, those medical professionals tasked with eliminating plagiarism revealed that her work was seriously flawed.
Around here, Ursula is better known by her unofficial nickname “Mother of Germany” as she’s a mother-of-seven. She appeared on the political stage back in 1990 as Angela Merkel’s protege within the CDU. Throughout all these years she would follow in the wake of Merkel, without giving her patron a single reason to doubt her unconditional loyalty. In 2005, Ursula received the first ministerial portfolio by taking charge of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. In 2009, Merkel decided that Ursula had been in political circles long enough to occupy a more demanding position of the Minister for Labour. Finally, four more years down the line Merkel allowed her protege to take place at the helm of Federal Ministry of Defence, the decision that would soon prove to be a disastrous step, as Ursula’s stay in this government body was accompanied by scandals, controversial decisions, and ambiguous statements.
Initially, Ursula managed to obtain an increase in military spendings from the government, which resulted in the military brass favoring their new Federal Minister of Defence, but things were about to change and change drastically. Since 2014, the Bundeswehr has signed some 3,800 contracts that were aimed at reorganizing the German armed forces and making them more capable in the sphere of information technology. However, a total of three German parties would make statements about those contracts being distributed among “friends and family” of the ruling elite. Additionally, the Greens, the Free Democratic Party and the Left would argue that the Bundeswehr has been hiring way too many foreign consultants, as their total salary, according to DW, exceeded 700 million euros.
In addition, the Bild would cite the report of the Federal Court of Auditors accusing Ursula von der Lyayen of concealing the unacceptably low level of combat readiness of the Bundeswehr. As of 2017 no German submarine was capable of setting sail, less than a half of all frigates and tanks was operational, and no more than a third of all combat helicopters could take off. In addition, German corvettes, that according to the Federal Minister of Defence were “perfectly fit for combat” had no weapons mounted on them and hardly enough crew to even go to sea.
Therefore, it is quite clear that against the background of such a “success story”, Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen’s departure from the Federal Ministry of Defence sounds like great news for the military brass. But then, she became a burden for the Christian Democrats, as the recent opinion polls have shown that the majority of German citizens are highly critical of the results she achieved on her post. There was a good reason why Ursula, after the recent elections was trying to negotiate herself some other position in the coalition government, but there was no vacant posts for her.
There’s no use arguing that a person with a disastrous track record cannot possibly succeed in the highest post in the EU, therefore it’s evident that some force has been strongly “promoting” her to this post. It is not difficult to identify this “mysterious force”, since nor Europe, nor its ordinary citizens can gain anything from poor leadership. It’s noteworthy that in the aftermath of yet another catastrophy associated with poor leadership – Brexit, Washington has lost its last means of directly influencing European politics through London. It’s clear that the US has no interest in observing a strong union of states across the pond, nor will it.
That is why today, unfortunately, the main quality a politician must possess to advance to the leading positions in the West is incompetence, and that shows just how low we have fallen.
Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”