Angela Merkel’s succession promised not to be easy. After 16 years in power, the ever popular German Chancellor leaves behind a Christian Democratic Party (CDU / CSU) full of doubts. The strong support given on Monday by the party leadership to Armin Laschet’s candidacy for the September 26 legislative elections could indicate that the party has overcome its internal questioning. It is not so.
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Laschet was able to boast of a positive balance sheet at the head of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous in Germany. But since he took the presidency of the CDU in January, things have become complicated. Lax in the fight against Covid-19 in its infancy, it belatedly rallied to stricter measures. He may be close to Merkel, but his popularity is plummeting. In addition, the leader’s war is raging within the Christian Democrats. Not long ago, Markus Söder, president of CSU, the sister party, also stood as a candidate. With the massive support of the CSU, which has so far never succeeded in electing a chancellor, this very popular head of the Land of Bavaria does not intend to make a decision before the end of the week.
However, faced with the Greens, who are on the rise (nearly 23% of voting intentions) and who will nominate their candidate on April 19, there is, however, an urgent need to decide. The CDU is on a worrying trajectory. It recently recorded its worst electoral scores in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, the homeland of Helmut Kohl. It is only credited with 26-28% of the voting intentions, against 35% in February. She is caught up in corruption cases related to the purchase of anti-covid masks. If added to this a fratricidal fight between CSU and CDU, the succession of Angela Merkel could turn into a nightmare.
A party collapse would be good neither for our neighbor nor for Europe. The real danger, for Armin Laschet, is to be supported above all by the leaders of the CDU who refuse to hold primaries. This lack of popular legitimacy within the party could backfire on September 26.
To reverse the trend, this former Francophile MEP will have to convince quickly. Over the course of his career, he has been able to demonstrate fighting spirit. He also embodies, like Merkel, a centrism appreciated across the Rhine and stability, a virtue that the Germans revere. Soaked in Europe, it seems armed to best balance the role of a strong Germany in the European concert.