Who - and what - comes after Merkel?

The Bundestag elections this autumn are drawing closer - and with them a new face in the German Chancellery after almost 16 years under Merkel. None of the three top candidates - Armin Laschet, Olaf Scholz and Annalena Baerbock - are inspiring much enthusiasm in Europe's press, but opinions differ as to whether real change can be expected.

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Financial Times (GB) /

Candidates have had it easy so far

By historical standards the current chancellor candidates have had it too easy, the Financial Times points out:

“The Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl (1982-1998) was mocked by the German left as a provincial bumpkin. ... After him came the pugnacious Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder (1998-2005). He had grown up on welfare, the son of a cleaner whose husband had never come back from the war. Some of Germany's greatest chancellors, in sum, were improbable candidates. But all eight were tested by war or other hardships before they gained the highest office. That neither the CDU's Armin Laschet, the SPD's Olaf Scholz, nor the Greens' Annalena Baerbock had to endure similar trials is surely a blessing. Whether that prepares them for the as yet unknown ordeals of being Germany's ninth chancellor is another question.”

Népszava (HU) /

Europe will only get greener

In future there will be no getting around the Greens either in Germany or in Europe, Népszava writes:

“The eyes of the world are now on Germany's Greens. ... What can a new German government in whose formation the Greens will most certainly play a key role bring? Without doubt an even greener Europe. The elections to the European Parliament in 2019 were already a clear sign that this would happen. The democratic parties of the old continent have no other option anyway. ... Tomorrow's voters will be more and more environmentally conscious and more and more concerned about the future. Concerns which, unfortunately, are more and more justified.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

No experiments in this campaign

Continuity seems to be the name of the game in Germany's election campaign, Jutarnji list comments:

Armin Laschet was chosen as Angela Merkel's successor precisely because he most resembles the ultra-popular chancellor and seemed more likely to continue her policies. ... Olaf Scholz, Laschet's main rival for the chancellorship, has been minister in two Merkel governments, so he certainly isn't a fresh face. That's why the Green candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, was so popular in the spring. ... But her popularity waned after a series of scandals. ... Voters are not aware of the alternatives: the parties have different programmes, but there is hardly any discussion about them. The public is more concerned with Covid and the floods.”