The first woman – and the first German since Walter Hallstein in 1958 – to serve as the President of the European Commission, von der Leyen is the perfect embodiment of the invisible power of Europe.
When Merkel became Chancellor in 2005, von der Leyen was appointed Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, and helped change the role of women in Germany, significantly increasing the number of nurseries so that German women could have children and continue working. For German conservatives, this was a revolution. Appointed Minister of Labor and Social Affairs in 2009, she advocated for the introduction of a minimum wage and quotas for women on boards of directors. Thus, for the only time in her political career, she opposed her mentor, Merkel, to whom she remains the most loyal of allies. Von der Leyen has established herself as the CDU’s social conscience, driving the party’s modernization and repositioning towards the center, as desired by Merkel.