What does Laschet as CDU leader mean for Europe?

North Rhine-Westphalia's state premier Armin Laschet has been elected as the new leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after winning a runoff against Friedrich Merz, who is seen as far more conservative, in the party's digital convention on Saturday. Commentators examine what the election means for Europe and how the CDU voter base is reacting to it.

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Financial Times (GB) /

The better choice for chancellor too

Armin Laschet will hopefully become the chancellor candidate too, the Financial Times writes:

“The CDU and Germany - and indeed Europe - are better off without Mr Merz as leader. His economic and social views are stuck in another era. Although broadly pro-European, a Merz-led campaign deploying hawkish fiscal and monetary views to win back voters from the Eurosceptic nationalist Alternative for Germany would have spelt trouble. The Francophile Mr Laschet would continue Ms Merkel's cautious pro-Europeanism and potentially revive a strained Franco-German relationship.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

A steady hand on the wheel

Jyllands-Posten heartily approves:

“Even though the CDU remains Germany's largest party, it is still a mere shadow of its former self. This is masked by the decline of the other long-established major party, the SPD. The Greens, on the other hand, are gaining ground. With Laschet as chairman, a coalition with the Greens is a real possibility. That would be a first in German politics. For Denmark, it is crucial that its large neighbour Germany clearly commits to mandatory international cooperation. A steady hand on the steering wheel in Berlin is the first prerequisite for Europe to be able to meet the many challenges that Denmark also faces. So there is good reason to welcome Armin Laschet.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Pragmatic and predictable

Hungary should count itself lucky that political and economic stability are axiomatic in Germany:

“Apart from the major error that Germany made in 2015 in the migration crisis, Germany does not make rash decisions. Germany is a master of compromise and maintaining pragmatic relations. If the analyses of Laschet in the German press are to be believed, this is the beginning of of another Merkel era sans Merkel which will continue to be characterised by cool pragmatism, predictability and calmness. From the Hungarian perspective, things could be a lot worse. After all, so far the minor conflicts in the relationship between Hungary and Germany have never escalated because no one was interested in this happening, not even the much criticised Angela Merkel.”

Denik N (CZ) /

Don't just copy Merkel

Armin Laschet must step out of the chancellor's shadow and develop his own profile, Denik N declares:

“Laschet's election does not mark a new start so much as a continuation of Merkel's legacy: making CDU a party of the centre. ... A party that avoids confrontation and integrates the policies of competing parties into its own programme. ... Laschet's election has shown that there are not enough conservatives in the CDU who are ready to cast off Merkelism. ... But if he merely imitates the chancellor's style, Laschet will undoubtedly fail. Now it's up to him to show what makes him unique.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Don't annoy the core voters

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung sees the party rift continuing:

“Already we can hear disappointed grumbling in the former Merz camp, some of it toxic. ... Where will the 47 percent Merz supporters turn now? ... The party split into two almost equally sized camps in 2019 - and this standoff was one reason why Kramp-Karrenbauer's tenure was doomed from the start. ... Can Laschet close the policy fault lines in the CDU as it tries to move with the times? Does he have something for the conservatives up his sleeve? He would be well advised to avoid permanently annoying the conservative core, unlike Angela Merkel has done.”