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Von der Leyen’s potential partners in the Parliament

by editor

361 is the magic number for Ursula von der Leyen. 

Working on the assumption — and it’s not a given — that von der Leyen is nominated for a second term as European Commission president, she’ll need the backing of a majority of lawmakers in the European Parliament. (The same applies no matter who is picked by EU leaders.)

The next Parliament will have 720 MEPs, which means the wannabe Commission president will need 361 lawmakers to back them — regardless of how many MEPs abstain or skip the vote.

Last time around, von der Leyen only made it by nine votes. Even if the grand coalition of today — von der Leyen’s European People’s Party plus the Socialists and the liberals —  looks like it has enough votes, remember that not all those votes are guaranteed to go her way in the secret ballot.

Von der Leyen has opened the door to parts of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, which counts Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy as a member — a signal that she’s courting their votes. But a lot could change before a vote is held, possibly in mid-July.

Von der Leyen definitely knows that it’s good to have some margin for maneuver.

Last time around, she needed 374 lawmakers to support her. She met that threshold — but just barely — with the approval of 383 MEPs, even though at the time, the combined backing of the European People’s Party, the Socialists and Democrats, and the Renew Europe group could have won her more than 440 votes.

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