The Debate

Who to fill her shoes? Germans vote to pick Merkel's successor

THE DEBATE
THE DEBATE © FRANCE 24

It's the homestretch of Germany's federal election campaign and Angela Merkel is exactly where she did not want to be: back on the campaign trail. The outgoing chancellor of 16 years, who was in her home constituency on the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, is stumping for her struggling would-be successor as head of the Christian Democrats, Armin Laschet. Other potential heirs have stumbled before him.

Advertising

Is it down to Laschet, or has the woman who has been the dominant force in German and dare we say European politics, sucked all the oxygen from the room?

In fact, polls suggest that voters want the candidate that is most like Merkel. That just might be vice-chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, the pragmatic centre-left former mayor of Hamburg. How much of a revival for the Social Democrats? Germans do the opposite of the French. First they pick a coalition, then they decide on a platform and finally they agree on names.

Some quip that it's on Monday morning after the vote, when the ballots are counted, that things will get interesting. This will be the first coalition formed since Brexit, a further ratcheting of tensions between the US and China and a pandemic that has even seen Berlin bust the lid on spending caps. If, like last time, it takes months to form that government, it is not the Germans but all of Europe that will be holding its breath. How long can we afford to wait?

>> Read our webdocumentary: The Merkel era 

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning