It was a relieved José Manuel Barroso who was congratulated on being re-elected as President of the European Commission.
While his winning was never in doubt – his candidacy was unopposed – the size of his majority was vital. Anything less than absolute would have supported much voiced criticism that in his previous term he had been weak, mediocre and uninspiring. On the day, though, he pulled in 382 votes, fewer than five years ago but enough to ensure that if and when the Lisbon Treaty is ratified his position cannot be challenged. There is no doubt Barroso has his detractors. But in his native Portugal, where they are preparing for their own general election in less than two weeks, reaction was largely positive. Prime Minister Jose Socrates said: “I was very happy and I think all the Portuguese share that feeling, because the election of Mr. Barroso is good news for Europe and Portugal.” MP Manuela Ferreira Leite was also pleased. “This vote has been very important in strengthening his authority within the EC, because he did not just get a relative majority but he got an absolute one,” she said. As Portugal’s politicians continue on their own campaign trail, some on the Left have little confidence in Europe’s future direction under Barroso. Francisco Louca of the “Bloco de Esquerda” (The Left Bloc) was less than optimistic. “The re-election of Barroso is indicative of a Europe that has serious problems. Europe knows that Barroso fled Portugal because there was an economic crisis and because he had suffered electoral defeat,” said Francisco Louca.