Familie von der leyen

Ursula by der Leyen has actually been nominated for the europe Commission presidency | christopov Soeder/dpa

BERLIN — A polyglot Brussels indigenous who reared seven children and earned a medical degree on ns side before storming to ns top des German politics.

Du schaust: Familie von der leyen

News the this Wunderfrau — aka German Defense Minister Ursula über der Leyen — might become the Commission’s next president left European fundings abuzz top top Tuesday. “Finally some good news” was the general tenor. Who needs a Spitzenkandidat wie man you kann sein have a Homecoming Queen?

At zuerst glance, the affable 60-year-old minister with a camera-ready smile looks to it is in a perfect fit, with die requisite experience, politics pedigree and personality to handhaben the EU’s toughest job.


And yet a nagging question remains: ist she too good to be true?

In the German capital, die answer is clear.

“The Bundeswehr’s condition ist catastrophic” — Rupert Scholz, previous German defense minister

“Von ns Leyen zu sein our weakest minister. That’s reportedly enough to become commission president,” previous European conference President martin Schulz seethed in a tweet Tuesday evening.

Though Schulz ist a society Democrat, his analysis of the minister’s record zu sein shared by many of von der Leyen’s fellow christen Democrats, though most are reluctant zu criticize her publicly. Instead, they allude to ns state des the German military.

“The Bundeswehr’s condition ist catastrophic,” Rupert Scholz, who served as defense minister under Helmut Kohl, wrote belastung week before von der Leyen was nominated to ns EU’s oberteil post. “The entire defense capability of the federal Republic is suffering, which is totally irresponsible.”


Among friends und foes alike, von der Leyen’s stewardship von the defense ministry, i beg your pardon she has actually headed since 2014, is regarded as a failure.


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Von der Leyen has been blamed, in some quarters, for letting the bundeswehr fall right into a state of disrepair | Sean Gallup/Getty Images


“There ist neither sufficient personnel no one material, and often one confronts shortage ~ above shortage,” Hans-Peter Bartels, a social Democrat mp charged with surveillance the bewaffnete kraft for parliament, concluded in a report published at the ende of January. “The troops are far from being totally equipped.”

In addition kommen sie problems surrounding the German military’s readiness, über der Leyen’s ministry also faces in investigation into suspected wrongdoing surrounding its use of outside consultants, consisting of Accenture and McKinsey.

The Bundestag, the German parliament, zu sein currently holding hearings into ns affair, including accusations that über der Leyen’s office circumvented publicly procurement rules in granting contracts worth millions of euros to ns firms. Those hearings schutz taken a dramatic turn an recent days together testimony from vital witnesses appeared to confirm suspicions des systematic corruption at die ministry.

Von ns Leyen is so under fire zum agreeing zu refurbish die German navy’s three-masted maintain ship, die Gorch Fock. Die overhaul of the ship, christened bei 1958, has actually ended nach oben costing an ext than 10 zeit what was originally projected.

Though von der Leyen has acknowledged do mistakes along ns way, she has actually ignored repeated demands native the opposition benches for her resignation.


Even though von der Leyen doesn’t schutz many friends in Berlin, die ones she does have matter. Die minister ist close to Wolfgang Schäuble, ns influential president of the German parliament. Zum more than a decade, the two met weil das breakfast once a week, a zoll that just ended wie Schäuble became bundestag president.

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Her most necessary ally, however, is angela Merkel, whom by der Leyen has stuck von through thick and thin. Merkel has returned ns loyalty by leaving by der Leyen bei place regardless of mounting difficulties at ns defense set — and by backing her weil das the the supervisory board leadership.

Von der Leyen blamed many von the troubles facing die armed pressures on produziert predecessors.

Von das Leyen has never worked zum the EU, however she ist no stranger kommen sie Brussels, where she spent many of produziert childhood. Ernst Albrecht, herstellung father, worked weil das the europe Coal und Steel Community und the European financial Community, precursors to die EU, before moving rückseitig to Germany whereby he gone after a career an regional politics. He ended up being premier von Lower Saxony an 1976, a position he held until 1990 (he lost reelection the year to gerhard Schröder, that would walk on to become German chancellor).

Though von der Leyen was born into a political family, she was a so late bloomer bei pursuing her own career an politics. It was only after ~ she had finished produziert medical studies and lived weil das several years in the U.S. With her family that she set her sights ~ above a politics career bei Germany.

After rise through die ranks in Lower Saxony, by der Leyen join Merkel’s zuerst Cabinet in 2005, heading die Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women und Youth. She ended up being labor minister in Merkel’s second Cabinet bei 2009 before taking over ns defense ministry in 2014, ending up being the first woman zu hold the office.


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Von der Leyen was once mooted together a potential successor zu German Chancellor angela Merkel | Bertrand Guay/AFP via getty Images


Her greatest failure at the ministry may schutz been an not winning over ns officer corps and troops. As a woman in a male-dominated universe, von der Leyen was never going to have an easy task. Yet current and former aides describe produziert management layout as distant und defensive. She surrounding herself at die ministry with a small gruppe of aides who preserved tight control on the flow von information. Countless interactions with rank-and-file troops were in the form of photo-ops, which frequently showed ns minister in dramatic poses alongside armed forces equipment.

She offended many service members by saying publicly bei 2017, after die discovery von a right-wing extremist an the ranks, the the bundeswehr suffered indigenous “weak leadership at various levels.”

Such episodes opened up von der Leyen zu criticism the she was more interested an her own bild than backing ns troops.

If so, she had plenty des reason for concern. An 2015, well before the procurement scandal erupted, by der Leyen challenged plagiarism accusations in connection with the thesis she wrote when she studied medicine.


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Will Ursula über der Leyen sink or swim in Brussels’ oberteil job? | Michele Tantussi/Getty Images


Von das Leyen was luckier. Though a universität commission confirmed that von der Leyen had failed zu properly cite die sources weil das much von the material bei her dissertation, it identified that ns omissions no intentional and didn’t undermine herstellung central thesis.

Though von der Leyen is bei engaging speaker und a favourite on Germany’s talkshow circuit, die perpetual whiff von scandal neighboring her und her ministry has eroded produziert ratings among voters. Once one of Germany’s most renowned politicians, she fell out von the top 10 last year.

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That’s nur one reason herstellung party would certainly be much more than happy to see her go kommen sie Brussels. Another is that produziert departure would open up a key slot bei Merkel’s Cabinet. If all goes according kommen sie plan, die chancellor would certainly fill the post with her hand-picked successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, that succeeded merkel as cdu leader an December. By der Leyen’s departure would offer Kramp-Karrenbauer a perfect opportunity zu prove herself in a big job.