Germany: Söder for chancellor?
The CDU and its Bavarian sister party the CSU are to meet today to discuss who should become their candidate to succeed Angela Merkel in the 2021 parliamentary elections. The leaders of the two Christian Democratic parties, Armin Laschet and Markus Söder, have both declared their willingness to run for the post of German chancellor. Europe's press discusses Söder's chances.
A gamble for the CDU
None of the Christian Democrat candidates that came from the CSU has ever become chancellor, the Wiener Zeitung points out:
“The CSU is a regional party. In absolute terms it got just over six percent of the vote in the Bundestag in the 2017 elections. ... What gives the CSU its strength is its union with the CDU, whose share of the vote is 27 percent. Twice in the past, the Christian Democrats have chosen a CSU member as their joint chancellor candidate, and both times that resulted in a defeat. One of the decisive factors was the fact that a candidate from the smaller CSU has problems being accepted by the larger CDU. ... From this point of view, choosing Söder as chancellor candidate would be to take a considerable risk.”
Söder the people's pick whether he wins or loses
Markus Söder has already won, Deutschlandfunk is convinced:
“If he prevails against Armin Laschet he'll have a realistic chance of becoming the next German Chancellor. But if Laschet prevails - which is likely - Söder will still be in a perfect position in Bavaria. Because in that case he'll be viewed as the popular - and successful - CSU premier whom the CDU didn't want as a chancellor candidate even though he would presumably have had better chances of winning. Rather than punish Söder, Bavaria will reward him for this. Even for many non-CSU voters, the Bavarian Söder would be their first pick. And he could relax and watch how Armin Laschet fares.”
An opportunistic titan
Söder owes his current popularity to an astonishing about-face, Berlin correspondent Tonia Mastrobuoni explains in La Repubblica:
“For years, the Bavarian premier was the opponent of refugees who flirted with Orbán and castigated Merkel. After his bitter election defeat in Bavaria in 2018, the CSU boss chummed up with the chancellor and advanced in the polls, becoming the best friend of the bees and the Greens who'd been luring away his voters. The man changes his opinions as if they were carnival costumes, his critics say. ... What can be said in his favour, however, is that Söder has the energy of a titan. ... And then there's the health crisis, which he has tackled with vigour and - at least here - with consistency and true loyalty to Merkel's line.”