Despite new concessions to his opponents, Republican Kevin McCarthy has failed again in the power struggle for the highest office in the US Parliament. The 57-year-old did not get enough votes in further elections on Thursday to become chairman of the parliamentary chamber. Previously, there had been intensive negotiations behind the scenes - apparently without success. McCarthy did no better than the previous runs on Tuesday and Wednesday. He is opposed in particular by ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump - although he supports McCarthy.
McCarthy reportedly took a big step towards his party opponents ahead of the vote to secure their votes and break the deadlock. The 57-year-old is said to have even agreed to further lower the hurdles for removing a chairman from the House of Representatives. He offers his opponents a means of pressure to chase him out of office at will. This could have serious ramifications and create even more instability when important decisions are about to be made in Congress. The right-wing MPs could hold the Chamber hostage. McCarthy had already come a long way to accommodate the renegades on this point - but without success.
New level of desperation
He is now showing a new level of "despair," judged the broadcaster CNN. McCarthy failed six ballots on Tuesday and Wednesday and was embarrassed. The humiliation continued on Thursday. One of his opponents even voted for ex-President Trump during the oral vote. When voting, MPs can also vote for people who are not members of the US Congress. Trump is given no realistic chance of being elected speaker of the House of Representatives.
With Republicans holding a narrow majority in the House of Commons, McCarthy needs almost every vote in his party to be elected leader. If McCarthy cannot come to terms with opponents in his party, he may attempt to negotiate with the Democrats. They could help him win the elections by abstaining in their ranks, for example, because that would reduce the number of votes needed. It would also be possible for a new candidate to be put forward that the Republicans could agree on. Talks with the Democrats about a consensus candidate that they would support would also be conceivable.
Happy for the Democrats
The fact that the Democrats currently seem to be very happy to see McCarthy fail was shown on Wednesday evening (local time). After a break, MPs met again. McCarthy had previously said that another vote that evening would not be successful - so one of his confidants asked for the meeting to be adjourned. However, the Democrats opposed the project. Only at the last moment was the motion passed by a razor-thin Republican majority.
Even an appeal by ex-President Trump hadn't changed the situation. He had previously supported McCarthy - but gave him backing after the voting debacle. But the ardent Trump fans continued to block McCarthy. For McCarthy, the series of defeats is a historic defeat and a public embarrassment. It is the first time in a hundred years that the election has required more than one attempt and that a parliamentary group has not elected its candidate to office in the first round.
The power struggle also shows the inner turmoil of Republicans. They had regained a majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections in November and actually wanted to drive President Joe Biden in front of them. Now many are wondering whether the dysfunctional party is even capable of handling the important tasks in the parliamentary chamber.