Germany needs a new chancellor. Angela Merkel is generally very popular, but she is getting ready to leave in September. So who will it be?

Berlin, February 2, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) – The Germans do not vote their chancellor directly. If they did, if there were an election now and Angela Merkel was still available, a large majority would probably choose her again, after almost 16 years. Reliability is important. Common sense and reason too. The latter is what the country got from Merkel in normal times, during the financial crisis and in the current Corona crisis.

Majority trembling

Looking at the latest poll results, less than eight months before the next Bundestag elections, we come to the following result: Unless things change a lot, a center-left coalition does not seem likely. Together, the Greens, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the extreme left “Die Linke” would probably not have a majority, or a fragile majority.

Greens Annalena Baerbock talks to former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

In this case, the Greens would probably take the lead. With nearly 20 percent in the polls, they are much stronger than the old SPD big-tent party at 15 percent. These 7 percent that “Die Linke” could bring would not really be enough. And that’s just the math. The main question is: Would they even want to rule together, if they could?

Too weak

The SPD and the Greens have already governed together. There is a lot of overlap when it comes to their policies, but things are different with ‘Die Linke’. Leftists have moderate members that other parties could probably work with, but there are also radicals, who like the idea of ​​dispossessions, who defend Putin and who want to leave NATO. There is too much incompatibility, it seems.

This leaves the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Angela Merkel as the most likely main coalition partner. With some 37% in the polls, the CDU and CSU are by far the biggest parties. The “Union” is stronger than the Greens and the SPD combined. One of these last two parties will have to be the Conservatives’ coalition partner, because their natural party, the FDP, is too weak.

Abrasion and shrinkage

When you consider the fact that the SPD has suffered a lot of abrasion and shrinkage during the major coalitions led by Angela Merkel, and the statements of its leaders, the likelihood of another such partnership is relatively low. This means that the CDU will have to marry the Greens. But what seems easy in the previous sentence is really not. Especially in the areas of social policy, climate protection and the economy, there are differences that should be ironed out with a lot of sandpaper.

In all likelihood, the next Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany will be a member of the CDU or its Bavarian sister party CSU. On the other hand, things can always change, especially in times of crisis.

Five candidates

One of the following will likely be elected Chancellor by the Bundestag after the autumn elections:

Markus Söder (CSU)

Photo by ‘Superbass’, license CC BY-SA 4.0

Markus Söder (54) is the man with the Kennedy effect. In pre-Corona times, he made people smile by throwing cheap jokes during speeches. It’s not what he says, but how he says it. And this is the whole package. Söder has a personality. He’s certainly likable, but his critics think he loves himself the most. During the current Corona Crisis, he became one of Germany’s most important rulers, even though his territory is believed to be only Bavaria. As Prime Minister, he heads the federal state. Even Söder’s enemies are convinced that he would likely win elections for both CDU and CSU, if he ran for chancellor. He is more conservative than Angela Merkel and would probably push the “Union” parties back to the right.

Armin Laschet

Photo by Imanuel Marcus

Politically, Armin Laschet is for the continuation, at least more than Markus Söder. The new CDU president will be 60 in two weeks. As prime minister of Germany’s largest federal state, North Rhine-Westphalia, he has governance experience, as does Söder. Like his Bavarian nemesis, he is sympathetic to many, but not as good as a rhetorician. During the current crisis, Laschet’s performances in front of television cameras were at times a little too theatrical. As a candidate for chancellor, Laschet might attract more progressive voters than Söder, but he is generally not as popular as the man from Bavaria.

Annalena baerbrock

Photo by Imanuel Marcus

Annalena Baerbock (40) looked like a possible chancellor in mid-2019, when the Greens were almost as strong as the CDU, when Corona was still a Mexican beer brand and climate protection was everyone’s term. was talking. However, the weakness of the left spectrum makes this promotion more unlikely. Ms Baerbock is a political scientist and lawyer who was not even born when her party was founded forty-one years ago. For years she worked for the Greens in the Bundestag and for the European version of her party. At one point she was president of the Greens in Brandenburg. The rest is history. Annalena Baerbock may not yet be the most gifted speaker in the world, but she is young and could possibly fill any position.

Robert Habeck

Robert Habeck (51) studied German philosophy and philology. Alone and with his wife, he published several children’s books and novels. One of them has been turned into a play, another into a film. At the dawn of the new millennium, Habeck stepped up his political activities with the Greens in his home state of Schleswig-Holstein, where he became Minister for Energy Transition and Agriculture in 2012. In cooperation with Annalena Baerbock, he leads the Greens. This means that he would automatically be a potential chancellor in the unlikely event of a three-way center-left government coalition. Robert Habeck’s weak point: he is not the most convincing speaker either. Like his colleague, he is part of the wing of the “realists” of his party.

Olaf Scholz

Photo: SPD / Thomas Trutschel / Photothek

Olaf Scholz (62) is the official SPD candidate for chancellor. He has a number of problems in this position. It is not his experience. As Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Germany, he won respect even among conservatives. Previously, he was Minister of Labor, First Mayor of Hamburg and Senator of the Interior of the same city. The problem he faces is his own party. Over the past two decades, it has fallen from over 30 percent to 15. Unless a miracle happens, Scholz can’t really win the election. Second, he will have to fight not only the opponents of other parties, but his own as well. The two SPD presidents are sort of unpopular leftists who have failed to resolve their party’s problems. Scholz, on the other hand, is a popular centrist who may not be able to make things better in a situation like this.

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