At the center of public interest, throughout not only Germany, but most of Europe in the months of June and July is “Who will be Germany’s next Chancellor?”
Angela Merkel’s “shoes” are not exactly easy to fill.
After around the end of 2018, Merkel announced that she would not take part in the 2021 elections. She transferred the leadership position of the Christian Democratic Union to her protégé Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is referred to as AKK in Germany.
But she did not endorse AKK, not for the party leader position, nor as chancellor. AKK barely won the vote for leadership with 25 votes.
AKK is unlikely to become chancellor. Shortly after she became leader of the CDU, she drew criticism for a joke about transgender people.
A few months after that, she botched her response to a viral YouTube video that sought “the destruction” of the CDU.
The CDU had poor performance in the European elections this May, losing many seats to the Greens, as well as to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.
Kramp-Karrenbauer drew sharp criticism across the spectrum of the German media due to the poor result, despite actually winning the election.
Her poll numbers have been dropping steadily since she was elected, and she now faces a 36% approval rating.
Most recently, Germany Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was confirmed as European Commission President, and the seat became vacant.
AKK was announced as Germany’s Defense Minister, which is widely considered as a “poisoned chalice.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer’s colleagues welcomed the appointment. “When such an important position, a core job in the cabinet, becomes available, then a CDU leader must step up and take responsibility, and she is doing that,” said Ralph Brinkhaus, the leader of the CDU parliamentary caucus.
“If you want to show leadership you don’t consider the risk, you get on with the job. In life as in politics, there are always risks. If you don’t trust yourself to take on hard tasks, you don’t belong in politics.”
The job of Defense Minister is a hard one, Germany’s armed forces, according to critics chronically underfunded, are consistently accused of inefficiency and of having inadequate or defective equipment. It is a difficult position to improve one’s reputation in.
And, surely enough, on July 20th, AKK’s approval fell further, with only 17% of people wanting to see her as the next Chancellor.
The next possible successor as Chancellor that comes to mind is the possibility of a Green politician taking up the role, after the exquisitely high performance at the European Parliament elections.
The possible options are two – Annalena Baerbock or Robert Habeck, the co-leaders of the Green party.
Robert Habeck has challenged Merkel for a while now as Germany’s most popular politician.
Conservative daily Die Welt plumped for his colleague, declaring in a page one commentary this week that “the next chancellor is named Annalena Baerbock”.
“If the misery plaguing the CDU and SPD continues, the Greens could end up installing the next chancellor, and will for feminist reasons decide in favour of the assertive Madame Baerbock,” predicted the newspaper.
“She also understands the economy… At the moment, she doesn’t need to offer more, given the sad state of the competition.”
At the same poll, which showed 17% of Germans wanting to see AKK as chancellor, Robert Habeck received 31% of the vote.
The current tendency, especially among young people, to fight against climate change, also improves the Green’s chances.
In surveys among students, the Greens reach with 51 percent the absolute majority in the case of general elections. The Green party is followed by the CDU/CSU with ten percent before the FDP and Left Party with nine percent and the SPD in fifth place with eight percent.
At the same time, 59 percent of respondents said that they “personally regret it if the SPD disappeared into oblivion”. 36 percent would not care. Even 70 percent of the Green supporters and 66 percent of Union supporters therefore regret the decline of the SPD.
It is yet early to say anything conclusive, since the direction of the wind can change abruptly. But, as of now it appears that a Green wave may be coming towards Germany and with it bring great change. Whether that will actually happen, time will tell.
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