Who will succeed Merkel?

Angela Merkel has been German Chancellor since November 2005 - the only chancellor to hold office longer was Helmut Kohl. But in the elections to the Bundestag this autumn, she won't stand for office, and the CDU has been unable to agree on who should step into the ring instead. The Greens have chosen Annalena Baerbock as their candidate. Commentators are full of anticipation.

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Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Laschet deserves the top position

Wiener Zeitung advises the CDU to do damage control:

“It is always a failure of the older generation if it does not leave its successors with an orderly procedure to channel familial competition productively, but instead offers plenty of space for their destructive energy to burgeon. ... The final remnant of rationality in this irrational duel would now be for Laschet to become the designated candidate for chancellor after all. The head of the smaller party should not force his will on the larger one. ... And the CDU would be well advised to adopt a fixed procedure for selecting its candidate for chancellor in the future.”

Les Echos (FR) /

When the others quarrel, Baerbock rejoices

Les Echos sees in the Green's candidate Annalena Baerbock the potential to become a new Merkel:

“The former top trampoline athlete has enough strength to use the current momentum to the Greens' advantage, whereas the conservatives and the SPD are engulfed by infighting and their poll numbers are dropping. ... She has been an ordinary member of parliament representing the East German state of Brandenburg, but has never held office in the executive. Yet her competence regarding issues ranging from climate to Europe - which she would like to see become more involved - to social affairs is accepted. A growing number of Germans considers her to be Angela Merkel's successor. An option which the chancellor would apparently view very favourably...”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

An exciting new beginning in any case

NRC Handelsblad considers the erosion of the political centre in Germany to be the key challenge:

“The German political landscape has seen significant changes, and everyone in Europe would be well advised to observe it closely. ... In the Merkel era, the centrist parties became less important, and there was a lot of movement at the edges. According to polling, Berlin will have to rely on a very adventurous coalition. ... No matter who succeeds Merkel, Germany will not become a radically different country with different interests in European policy from one day to the next. But the leadership style will be different, and priorities will shift.”