Chancellor Merkel’s celebration elects Armin Laschet as the brand new chief
The candidate for the chairmanship of the party of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany, Armin Laschet, gesticulates as he takes part in a discussion in the party center in Berlin on January 8, 2021.
CHRISTIAN MANG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG / POOL / AFP via Getty Images
FRANKFURT – Germany’s ruling CDU party elected Armin Laschet as its new chairman on Saturday, which may pave the way for him to replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor in the elections later this year.
Laschet is currently Prime Minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state in the state. He defeated conservative rival Friedrich Merz by 521 votes to 466 in a vote that was forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to do everything so that we can stick together this year … and then make sure that the next chancellor in the federal elections comes from the union (CDU / CSU),” Laschet said after the competition on Saturday to a Reuters translation.
Continuation of Merkel’s policy
He was born in 1961 and was elected to the Bundestag for the first time in 1994. His election is considered a continuation of Merkel’s policy, since he has committed himself to keeping the CDU firmly in the “middle of society”.
With him as chairman, the CDU will likely stay up to date and focus on more climate policy and environmental issues. He has a strong Catholic background, supported by Christian circles within the party.
He is a trained lawyer and also worked as a journalist between 1986 and 1991 at the time of German reunification. He is considered very liberal and is popular with the immigrant community in his home state.
If he becomes the CDU’s candidate for chancellor in the September elections, he could be open to various coalitions – power sharing is a more recent tradition in German politics.
He brought the idea of a government alongside the Liberals, the FDP, in order to win over parts of the business camp within the CDU. But he’s also seen as a natural addition to a coalition with the Greens, as he speaks well with the party and advocates environmental issues.
I am not sure I am Chancellor
The CDU’s candidate for chancellor will not be determined until spring. And it is not certain whether the newly elected chairwoman will automatically switch to Merkel’s role, who has confirmed that she will not run for a fifth term in power. Markus Söder, the very popular Bavarian Prime Minister, and Jens Spahn, the current Minister of Health, could also join the race to lead Europe’s largest economy.
Merkel resigned as chairwoman of the CDU in 2018, and her successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer resigned in February 2020 after a series of communications accidents exposed her as too weak to run the firm.
In a research note on Saturday, Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, said that Laschet was now in pole position to replace Merkel as Chancellor in the fall.
“But if the CDU doesn’t shine in the state elections on March 14th, the more popular Markus Söder (CSU) could still be the CDU / CSU’s candidate for chancellor,” he said.
“Laschet was widely seen as the ‘continuity candidate’ favored by Merkel and much of the party building. It is unlikely that Laschet will steer the CDU in a new direction and continue Merkel’s line on tax and other domestic issues as well as on European and foreign issues Matters instead. “