The beginning of the end of an era in European politics will mark Saturday when the 1,001 members of Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU), Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, will hold an online conference to elect a new leader.
Merkel's departure in September will mark a turning point for the European Union. For the past 15 years, Merkel's political ability to use Germany's unrivaled political and economic fabric and its own persuasive powers has helped Europe manage issues such as:
- The sovereign debt crisis that followed the collapse of the global financial market 2008-2009
- The migratory flows created by the Syrian civil war
- The ever-troubled relations that separate northern Europe from the south and the east from the west
- The complicated relations with the United States and China
- The process of moving beyond Brexit to building a new relationship with the United Kingdom
- Pandemic management
She certainly has not done all this alone. However, as the leader of the most important EU member, and due to its experience and international respect for the crisis and its capacity, it has proved necessary for the EU's ability to “absorb” each case.
The change of baton in Germany is even among the ten risks that the Eurasia Group estimates that it is pregnant in 2021. Risk number nine “Europe after Merkel” states that the pandemic and the fears it cultivated strengthened the political fate of Angela Merkel. The coronavirus “protected” the German chancellor by preventing her weakening and at the same time setting the stage for the EU and the € 750 billion Recovery Fund, a game-changing development that proves to be the best (and perhaps the only) good use of the pandemic as political opportunity to strengthen the multilateral approach.
Note that the number one risk for the Eurasia Group is the United States with the change of government and the presidency of Joe Biden, and second the pandemic and its scars in the economy.
What do we know so far about changing the baton in the CDU?
- There are three candidates:
- Friedrich Mertz, a candidate from the center-right wing with a business-friendly policy,
- Armin Lasset, Governor of the largest state of Germany and
- Nobert Rotgen, current chairman of the parliament's foreign affairs committee.
- He could beat any of the three. Mertz has pledged to lead the CDU “away from the shadow of Angela Merkel” by leading the party to the center-right. The other two candidates have been nominated as central to seeking consensus.
- Whoever wins will start talks with the party's “little brother”, the CSU, and its leader and Bavarian prime minister, Markus Sonder, to agree on a candidate for the September national elections. This selection will be made in late March or early April.
- The popularity of this weekend's winner in the coming weeks will determine a lot as these numbers are likely to determine whether the new CDU leader or CSU's Sonder will be selected as candidates for the chancellor.
- The CDU / CSU candidate is likely to replace Merkel as German chancellor in September, possibly in a coalition with the Greens.
SOURCE: naftemporiki.gr with information from gzeromedia