Ursula von der Leyen will be the first female European Commission president, the first German in half a century, and the first to be confirmed by a majority so small it can be counted on two hands.
Her wafer-thin nine-vote margin leaves a bittersweet edge to a life-changing victory for the former German defence minister, who has been propelled into Brussels' top job in a matter of a fortnight, seemingly against the odds.
Brushing off questions about the implications of the European Parliament vote, von der Leyen insisted she "did not know" who voted for her in the secret ballot, and that "a majority is a majority in politics".
But the nature of the vote — and the anti-establishment groups that appear to have pushed her over the line — highlights the political trouble that lies ahead for the von der Leyen administration.
In some ways, Brussels now has a better sense of the challenges the next commission will face in building a working majority in parliament — and passing any legislation — than where the new president stands on the biggest policy questions.
The price of the vote
After a scramble to win round sceptical MEPs, by Tuesday von der Leyen secured pledges of support from leaders of political families who in theory command more than 500 votes. The fact that only 383 positive votes actually materialised will be a cause for some alarm. "A lot of people have been lying through their teeth all day," said one party official.
Attention will initially focus on those parties outside the EU mainstream whose support made a difference — around 40 MEPs from Poland's Law and Justice party and Italy's Five Star movement — and whether von der Leyen is now beholden to them in some way.
Such was the concern over the vote that Angela Merkel called her Polish counterpart to commiserate over Law and Justice MEPs failing to secure top jobs in the parliament. Warsaw may be expecting even more when portfolios are distributed to commissioners in von der Leyen's team.
Some MEPs are worried it may extend to a softer line on rule of law in general when dealing with illiberal regimes in Poland and Hungary. Von der Leyen has conspicuously avoided mentioning "Article 7" — the rule of law enforcement mechanism that has become such a bugbear for Poland and Hungary.
This may all be manageable. But expectations have certainly been raised. Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's prime minister, hailed his country's "constructive" role and said he hoped a similar attitude would prevail in negotiations over the EU's budget.
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The stable majority
The bigger long term concern for von der Leyen may be the arithmetic of power. The European Parliament is more fragmented than at any time since direct elections began in 1979 and there is scant sign of a stable coalition emerging between the three or four pro-EU groups needed for a majority. Without finding a working arrangement, von der Leyen's policy ambitions will be hamstrung.
Tuesday's vote demonstrated that she will not only be handicapped by lacking established networks of influence in the parliament. Even the (many) leaders of the parliament she will come to know may struggle to deliver their troops.
That goes for her own political family too. While it is impossible to know for sure, insiders in Strasbourg on Tuesday night suggested dozens of European People's party MEPs must have also turned against her. If they did, it was partly a reaction of a von der Leyen policy programme too heavily geared to their opponents.
What we know
To win over her sceptics in the socialist, green and liberal camps, von der Leyen presented a 24-page "policy framework" big on environmental issues, social policy and gender equality.
The former German families minister, for instance, said she wanted to force EU companies to introduce binding pay gap transparency measures, recruit the first gender-balanced college of commissioners and introduce a system that looks something like a minimum wage.
On the environment, von der Leyen has pledged a "Green new deal" within the first 100 days of her term with eye-catching proposals like an EU carbon border tax and cut in the bloc's emissions by 55 per cent in 2030 (up from an existing promise of 30 per cent).
Her climate proposals were not enough to get backing from Green MEPs, but were hailed by Pascal Canfin, a green turned En Marche MEP, as "the most important ambition" ever shown by an incoming commission president.
Von der Leyen insisted that Green MEPs would not strike down her proposals when they are put to vote in the parliament. "They have to get to know me, they have to win confidence and rely on me," she said. This indeed may have been one of the reasons some of her own centre-right MEPs failed to support her.
Filling in the blanks
It will be hard but far from impossible to build a working majority with the four pro-EU parties (centre-right, socialist, liberal and green). The nine-vote margin was a snapshot of opinion, rather than entrenched opposition; commission president Jose-Manuel Barroso survived with a majority that was only slightly bigger in 2009.
But a lot will also depend on issues that were left unaddressed over the past two weeks.
Von der Leyen avoided taking a stand on some of the biggest and most politically sensitive issues facing the EU in coming years.
Her policy programme is largely silent on how the EU should position itself between the US and China in the midst of a global trade war; whether to reform the bloc's industrial and competition policy; endorse further enlargement; or find consensus in the union's vexed negotiations over its long-term budget.
The von der Leyen Commission in short remains something of an unknown quantity — including to the MEPs she will partly depend on to make it a success.
Written by: Alex Barker and Mehreen Khan
© Financial Times