Germany chooses potential successor to Merkel

In Germany, the congress of the Christian Democratic Union is taking place, following which the party members will elect its new leader. If the CDU succeeds in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the fall and depending on the outcome of the coalition negotiations, the head of the Conservatives will be able to apply for the post of German chancellor, which has been held by Angela Merkel for the past fifteen years.

As you know, Angela Merkel relinquished the leadership of the party in December 2018, handing over the reins of the CDU to her colleague Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. However, the expectations that “AKK” would have enough experience and authority to become a real, and not just a formal leader of the Conservatives, did not come true. Now they are urgently looking for a replacement for her, because the election campaign will begin soon.

Candidates’ speeches are broadcast on the Spiegel online portal. The current procedure is the most unusual in the entire recent history of Germany. The congress itself, which has been postponed several times since last spring due to the pandemic, is being held online. Since sanitary requirements do not allow 1001 delegates to gather in one room, they observe the congress “remotely” – through the screens of their computers. In the Berlin headquarters of the CDU, only members of the board and the candidates themselves are present in person. Since the regulations do not allow for intraparty elections online, the organizers resorted to a trick. First, on the afternoon of Saturday, January 16, delegates will vote virtually, and then – within the same first round – they will confirm their will by mail. If none of the contenders gains an absolute majority of votes, then a second round will be required.

As RG wrote, three have been nominated for the post of head of the CDU – businessman and lawyer Friedrich Merz, who left big politics 20 years ago, unable to withstand competition with Merkel, and now decided to take revenge; one of the most popular regional players, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet and, finally, the head of the Bundestag’s foreign policy committee Norbert Röttgen. None of them are considered clear favorites.

As political scientist Alexander Rahr noted in an interview with “RG”, of the whole trinity, 55-year-old Röttgen is considered the main “hawk” in the Bundestag, who speaks from the standpoint of not “real politics”, but exclusively liberal values ​​and alliances. Strengthening transatlantic ties is advocated by 65-year-old Merz, who is known for long-standing ties in American business circles. At the same time, he is the only one opposing the course of Merkel, promising to return the CDU to conservative origins. And 59-year-old Laschet twenty years ago headed the foreign policy committee in the European Parliament and was then one of the architects of the idea of ​​”four common spaces” between the EU and the Russian Federation.