Don’t go Merkel! That’s the message that Europe seems to be giving the German Chancellor as she enters the last year in office after which she will be stepping down. A Pew Research survey found that she polls 75 percent in the last year across nations – much higher than any other European or world leader. But her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is looking to move on by hosting elections over this weekend where three men are throwing their hat in the ring.
The winners selected by the CDU is most likely to be Chancellor, or decide who will be Chancellor, in the elections to be held on September 26. The three contenders include Friedrich Merz, a conservative who could attract voters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and remove the centres ground which the CDU has occupied under Merkel where a number of liberal policies have been pushed forward such as same sex marriage and embracing migrants.
The second is Armin Laschet who is likely to continue similar policies. He wants to modernize the CDU and include more female representation. The third candidate is Norbert Röttgen who was infamously fired by Merkel when he led the party to a loss in the country’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia in 2012. He was accused of running a poor campaign but claims he has learnt from the experience.
Whichever of the three men are selected there is no doubt that they have big shoes to fill and already being or trying to be leader of the CDU has had its pitfalls. Earlier, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had announced her resignation last February after she failed to keep coalition partners together – Germany follows a proportional representation system – so this ability is crucial and often candidates for the CDU leadership project policies that can appeal to other potential coalition parties.
In any case, the three men even if one of them are selected do not score very highly with Germany’s populace so far. So, they will have to win over fellow Germans and as a result Europe may even see a “quieter” less active and problem-solving Germany post-elections.