Europe’s childless leaders

James McPherson, writing in the Washington Examiner, makes a remarkable observation: the leaders of Europe have no children. France’s Emmanuel Macron has none. Same with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British prime minister Theresa May, Italian prime minister Paolo Gentilon, Holland’s Mark Rutte, Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Lofven has no biological children.

The prime minister of Luxembourg is also childless. I mention him not to cherry pick, but because it means that of the six founding members of what evolved into the European Union, five are now led by childless prime ministers or presidents. As George Weigel says, this would have been unimaginable to one of the founders of modern “Europe,” Konrad Adenauer, who was the father of eight.

It’s also unimaginable in the U.S., at least for the time being. President Trump has five kids. There hasn’t been a childless American president in my lifetime.

Some people can’t have children. Others choose not to, a decision I fully respect.

Still, there’s something eerie about the fact that Europe has no many childless leaders, even if you don’t agree with McPherson that those who lead nations should have skin, in the form of descendants, in the game. It seems extremely unlikely that a Europe that valued children highly would elect childless leaders in country after country. The electoral success of such leaders heightens the suspicion, supported by declining birth rates among non-immigrant Europeans, that Europe is committing demographic suicide.

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