Women in power in the EU


PARIS • Slovakia, where Zuzana Caputova (picture) is set to become president, becomes the eighth country in the 28-member European Union (EU) to currently have a woman in power.

These are the female European leaders she joins:
• GERMANY: Angela Merkel became Germany’s first woman chancellor when she was elected in 2005 and has led Europe’s biggest economy ever since, winning a fourth four-year term in March 2018.

However, she was weakened when her conservative bloc registered a historically low score in legislative elections in 2017: It took five months to form a coalition government.

The EU’s most experienced leader, she has been named “the world’s most powerful woman” several times by Forbes magazine.

Merkel has said she won’t run again when her current term ends in 2021, and some expect she won’t last that long if her unhappy left-right “grand coalition” implodes before then.

• CROATIA: Former Foreign Minister Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, a conservative, won Croatia’s top job in January 2015, becoming the first woman to be elected president by universal suffrage in the Balkans.

• ESTONIA: Kersti Kaljulaid, a non-aligned EU auditor and trained biologist, became in October 2016 the first female president of the Baltic state, after being elected by Parliament to the largely ceremonial role.

• LITHUANIA: Former European Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite was elected president in May 2009. She is currently wrapping up her second term and cannot stand again. She is the first woman to hold the position in the Baltic state.

• MALTA: Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca became president in April 2014, on the proposal of the prime minister (PM), becoming the Mediterranean island’s second woman president.

• ROMANIA: Viorica Dancila, a member of the European Parliament, became in January 2018 the first woman to head the Romanian government, but also the third PM in the space of seven months.

• BRITAIN: Conservative Theresa May in July 2016 became UK’s second woman PM after Margaret Thatcher.

She took over after David Cameron resigned following the referendum vote to leave the EU. Mired in problems over how Britain will leave the bloc, May has offered to resign if parliamentarians accept the divorce deal she has agreed with Brussels.

Elsewhere in Europe, women are currently in power in Norway (Erna Solberg), Iceland (Katrin Jakobsdottir), Georgia (Salome Zurabishvili) and Serbia (Ana Brnabic). — AFP