a curious Yankee in Europe's court

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Will Europe’s first president be a woman?

Posted on the May 6th, 2008

Certainly should be, according to the Guardian’s political columnist Polly Toynbee. With its new constitution, to be ratified later this year, Europe is about to get its first-ever fulltime president.

Writing about the prospect this month in E Sharp, Toynbee runs through the short list of names up for the job (after first dismissing the chances of Tony Blair), and then poses the forgotten question (“Another Angle” by Polly Toynbee, May-June, 2008):

So what of the other runners and riders most often touted for the job? A trawl through names mentioned most frequently throws up these: Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Denmark), José Manuel Barroso (Portugal), Aleksander Kwasniewski (Poland), Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium), Carl Bildt (Sweden) and Bertie Ahern (Ireland), whose resignation may now have ruled him out. But have you spotted the one overwhelming disqualification they all have? They are all men, every one of them. No doubt when Henry Kissinger famously asked, “Who do I call when I call Europe?” he assumed he’d be calling a man. But of course the new president must be a woman. No doubt about it — and here’s why.

After explaining her rationale, Toynbee then names the woman she considers the best candidate. That choice is Sweden’s Margot Wallstrom, currently vice-president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. Here’s why, she says:

She (Wallstrom) knows the EU institutions inside out, so is already better qualified for the job than most of the men on the list above. She wants the job, she deserves the job and has the nerve to step forward and say so.

Read more here (PDF file).

Here’s a video of Wallstrom being interviewed last fall from the European Union channel on YouTube:

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