Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was set to meet today to elect a new leader following the February resignation of incumbent Chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. However, the conference was postponed until December due to COVID-19 forecasts, prolonging the party’s internal power struggle.
Heavyweight candidates include Armin Laschet and Friedrich Merz, who are perceived as representatives of political continuity and change, respectively.
The new CDU leader will inherit a strong chance to become chancellor after the 2021 parliamentary election. However, the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of the CDU, may proffer their own candidate in party leader Markus Söder. Many experts already consider the Bavarian as the favourite to lead the upcoming joint campaign, suggesting a power shift in favour of the CSU.
Expect the election to greatly affect the swing of Germany’s political pendulum. Laschet would likely avoid abrupt policy divergences from Merkel’s era, while Merz could be expected to steer the CDU rightward toward hawkish monetary and hardline migration policies. Intra-party divisions, exacerbated by a Merz victory, could boost Söder’s chancellery prospects and his vision of paternalistic government control, whereas Laschet would be more conducive to a centrist continuation of CDU chairmanship focused on quickly reopening the economy.
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Daniel is an analyst and editor on the Current Developments team. He contributes regularly to the Daily Brief, focusing primarily on European, Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan politics.