Who will likely be Germany’s subsequent chief after Merkel?

Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive at the Berlin Federal Chancellery on March 22, 2020 to make a press release on the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19.

Michael Kappeler | AFP | Getty Images

At the weekend, Germany moved one step closer to a post-Angela Merkel era, when its ruling Christian Democratic Union elected a new chairman.

Armin Laschet prevailed against the competition of the conservative rival Friedrich Merz and won 521 against 466 votes in the party leadership elections that took place online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Laschet, who heads the North Rhine-Westphalia region, is considered a centrist and able to unite the broad member church of the ruling CDU, from conservatives and business-friendly party members to environmentalists, and is considered a continuity candidate according to Merkel’s pragmatic approach.

Although the party leadership’s win brings Laschet into the ring as a possible candidate for the next German Chancellor, this is by no means a closed deal.

What should you watch out for?

In the next few months, Laschet and Markus Söder, the chairman of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, will have to make a decision, who will be the CDU-CSU’s joint candidate for chancellor.

Whether the candidate will become chancellor will then depend on the outcome of the national elections on September 26, which will also mark the end of Merkel’s fourth and final term in office.

Alongside Laschet, Söder is an important contender for the firm, although he has not yet stated whether he will run for office. Even so, it remains a popular choice.

A survey published on Sunday by Civey for Focus Online magazine showed that 43% of Germans would prefer Söder as a candidate to succeed Merkel, with only 12.1% supporting Laschet. In third place, with the support of 8.7% of those surveyed, was Health Minister Jens Spahn, an ally of Laschet.

Mujtaba Rahman and Nas Masraff, executive directors and director of European research at Eurasia Group, said in a note on Saturday that Laschet faces “an uphill battle to prove his strength and leadership in the coming weeks and months”.

Angela Merkel (CDU, lr), Armin Laschet (CDU), Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Markus Söder (CSU), Prime Minister of Bavaria, speak to the heads of government.

Image Alliance | Image Alliance | Getty Images

“We still believe that he is the front runner in the race (with a probability of 55%) because he will play hard and Soeder will not give in so easily. Laschet also has history on his side: the CSU has only proposed one candidate for chancellor two previous occasions to represent the Union parties and both times they were defeated in elections. “However, they added,” Soeder is extremely popular. “

“If this continues to be the case, the CDU base and the parliamentary group can calculate that they will be better off in the September elections under Soeder’s leadership and put pressure on Laschet to resign.”

The Eurasia Group sees a 30% chance that Söder will run for the candidacy for chancellor and be successful. Independently of this, they found that Laschet and Söder “get along pretty well”, so any decision should be more smooth than disruptive.

Decisive regional elections

A final decision on who will run as CDU-CSU candidate is expected to be made in the spring of several important regional elections in mid-March.

Jana Puglierin, head of the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR) in Berlin, told CNBC on Monday that the regional elections in Rhineland-Palatinate (Rhineland-Palatinate) and Baden-Wuerttemberg will be crucial in the choice of the candidate.

“If the CDU does well in these elections and Laschet guarantees the support of the party and brings the various camps together (within) … then he will be the candidate for chancellor,” she said.

If the regional elections did not go well for the CDU, Söder could be the preferred candidate for the chancellor, said Puglierin.

Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, told CNBC on Monday that investors don’t have to pay attention to whether Laschet or Söder are the candidate for Merkel, but rather the “risk that the conservatives will not be in power at all after Merkel has left . ” Office later that year and that Germany can get a green-red-red coalition instead. “

This would entail a coalition government made up of the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party (currently a junior coalition party with the CDU-CSU) and the Left Die Linke.

“Such a government without the CDU / CSU can damage the economy through some reform reversals and more regulations. Since most important tax decisions would have to be approved by the upper house of parliament, in which the CDU / CSU still had a veto, the extent of future incentives and Germany’s support for its European partners would only be marginally affected, “stated Schmieding.

Comments are closed.