SHE is a gynecologist with seven children who know just about everything about fighter jets. She says grace before dinner and believes in gay adoption.

She loves the United States and dreams of United States of Europe someday. Some feminists are annoyed by her piety. Most conservatives are annoyed by her feminism.

''That woman,'' they sigh.

That woman is Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's Defense minister and a long time alley of    Chancellor Angela Merkel, who last week was unexpectedly nominated as the next president of the  European Union's powerful executive body.

If confirmed by the European Parliament later this month, she will be the first woman to hold the top job in the 28-nation block.

For now, the outcome of that vote has been clouded by more than the usual grumblings about the lack of transparency in the bargaining that produced her nomination.

In the juggernaut of  horse trading over the European Union's top jobs, Ms. von der Leyen emerged as the surprise winner from days of back-room haggling, a qualified but compromise candidate to break what threatened to be an insurmountable deadlock.

Her selection has met intense criticism at home, where having served 14 years alongside Ms. Merkel, and more than five in Germany's unloved Ministry of Defense, Ms. von der Leyen was not particularly popular.

Nevertheless, almost everyone agrees on one thing:

''Her European credentials are rock-solid,'' said Nathalie Tocci, special adviser to Federica Mogherini, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs, and the director of the Rome based International Affairs Institute.

Five-foot- three, the daughter of a German politician who worked in the European Institutions at the founding stage, Ms. von der Leyen,60, was born in Brussels and grew up speaking French and English.

It was at school that she said she developed ''a lifelong internal love for the phenomenon that is Europe.

At the height of Europe's debt crisis, Ms. von der Leyen argued in favor of closer political union, even as many in her country shrunk back from the from the idea of a greater federalization of debt.

Later, as a Defense minister, she urged for an ambitious integration of national defense structures and ultimately a ''European Army,'' which remains a distant dream.

''My aim is a United States of Europe - along the lines of the federal states of Switzerland, Germany or the U.S.A. she told the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2011.

In 2018, she repeated this vision in an another interview : ''I imagine the Europe of my children or grandchildren, not as a lose union of states trapped by national interests.''

The World students Society thanks author Katrin Bennhold.


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