Is Laschet the right choice for chancellor candidate?

CDU leader Armin Laschet has been nominated as the conservative CDU-CSU alliance's candidate for chancellor in the 2021 federal elections. The decisive factor was the vote of the CDU executive board on Tuesday night, after which the CSU leader Markus Söder withdrew his candidacy saying he will now support Laschet "without rancour and with all his strength". European media emphasise Laschet's qualities compared to Söder's, who is stronger in the polls, but note that the CDU-CSU bloc has taken a battering.

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Der Spiegel (DE) /

All thanks to Söder

The loser will be the winner, says Der Spiegel:

“The candidate from North Rhine-Westphalia is now frontman thanks to Söder. And Söder can only win from here on: if the election goes well for Laschet, it will only be thanks to the wonderful, energetic and loyal campaign support of the candidate of people's hearts from Nuremberg. Any future Laschet government is likely to receive more wise advice from the CSU headquarters than the Kohl and Merkel governments combined. If, however, Laschet loses the election, it will be clear with whom things would have gone better: Markus the Great. He would have known better and done better for evermore.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Criticism bounces off him

Laschet should not be underestimated, De Volkskrant notes in a profile piece:

“Laschet's gentle aura and conciliatory tendencies have often got in his way in these Covid times. Unlike Söder, he doesn't always come across as very energetic. ... Laschet's first task after the destructive power struggle with Söder is to win back the trust of the party and its potential voters. ... In any case, he won't let the polls bother him too much. 'Anyone can name ten examples of polls that turned around at the last moment' is one of his dictums. This can be seen as naive, but it also gives Laschet an aura of invulnerability.”

Kurier (AT) /

Bland but reliable

The decision to nominate Laschet was also based on his character and will pay off for the CDU in the long run, says Kurier:

“Armin Laschet stands for the bland centre, but also for Merkel's reliability. In times of growing insecurity, the rough-and-ready type may be enthralling for a while. In the long run, however, predictability, perseverance and reliability are more in demand. This is what gives Laschet a chance in the election campaign, besides his ability to prove those who don't give him a chance wrong.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Feud has left deep wounds

Lidové noviny finds the outcome of the duel somewhat surprising:

“Laschet has proven his ability to stand up to those who oppose him, and even to the German tabloids. Söder may have underestimated this ability. ... The question now, less than half a year before the elections, is whether it will be possible to heal the wounds left by the fratricidal struggle. Many members of the Union also have their doubts. Both parties must now agree on a common programme. It can't be ruled out that Söder will try to use his withdrawal to gain more clout. That also goes for personnel issues after the election. The CSU traditionally places emphasis on powerful ministries that are especially beneficial for Bavaria.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Germany threatens to sink into instability

The current weakness of the CDU-CSU alliance does not bode well, says De Morgen:

“The scandals have been piling up recently. ... And perhaps even worse: the parties' left and right wings prefer to fight out their countless battles in public. ... If the CDU-CSU suffers the predicted defeat in September, the political centre will begin to falter alarmingly. It cannot be ruled out that Germany will become extremely unstable in the autumn. ... The largest country in the European Union and by far the most powerful economy, the centre of the continent, in the past and now the hinge between Eastern and Western Europe. If a political crisis gets out of hand there, how will Europe overcome it?”