Chancellor candidate: is Laschet the man?
The CDU presidium on Monday backed party leader Armin Laschet as the Christian Democrats' candidate for chancellor in this year's general election. In Bavaria the CSU presidium did the same with its chairman Markus Söder. The latter is now pushing for the two parties' joint decision on the candidate to take account of the polls - in which he is ahead. Europe's press sheds light on the implications of the decision with a view to the September elections.
A dyed-in-the-wool European
Laschet must make the most of his strengths now, advises Le Temps:
“The big problem for Armin Laschet is that he is supported above all by the CDU leadership, which is refusing to hold a poll among the rest of the party. This lack of grassroots legitimacy could work against him on 26 September. To reverse this trend, the Francophile ex-MEP will have to do a lot of convincing - and quick. In the course of his career, he has proven that he is a fighter. Moreover, like Merkel, he embodies a centrism that is appreciated in his country, as well as stability, a virtue revered by the Germans. He's a dyed-in-the-wool European and seems to be the person best equipped to map out the role of a strong Germany in the European concert.”
Hardly a cause for celebration
The CDU believes that it will do less damage in the election campaign with Laschet, comments Der Standard:
“The fact that there are two candidates is not the problem. It's good to have a choice. ... . The problem is that the CDU/CSU is not cheerfully and confidently choosing between two candidates it believes to be very strong. No one is really passionate about Laschet, there's no enthusiasm. His poor poll ratings are a source of anxiety; everyone is wondering: can he do this? That's why the motto of Monday's chaotic candidate selection process: which is the lesser evil? Which one will do less damage in the election campaign? ... It's hardly a cause for celebration.”
Söder's battle has only just begun
The leader of the CSU will hardly be abandoning his aspirations so quickly, writes Péter Techet in Azonnali:
“Söder is only 54, so he's relatively young, and he only became Bavaria's premier in 2018. If he is serious about becoming chancellor, it might be worth his while to avoid a possible defeat this year and elegantly open the way for Laschet - so that in 2025 even the CDU will be calling on him to be its candidate. If Söder were to fail in this year's election, he would probably have to wave goodbye to the prospect of a national career for good: Bavarian politicians don't often get a second chance at the federal level.”
No longer conservative
Neither Laschet nor Söder will be able to restore the CDU/CSU's former image, Lidové noviny comments:
“The course Angela Merkel took was unacceptable to many conservative voters. And this is one reason why the AfD stands at 12 percent. But the choice of the CDU/CSU chancellor candidate is no referendum on Merkel’s legacy. … If the resistance to Merkelism were really so great then Friedrich Merz would have been made head of the party in January, not Laschet. ... Söder is also not someone to make a clear cut post Merkel. His main selling point is that he has taken rapid action against the epidemic, making Bavaria the safest state in coronavirus times.”