The German conservative party has a new leader this weekend, Armin Laschet, a supporter of continuity with the Merkel era, but two other personalities remain in ambush to try to become the next chancellor, Markus Söder and Jens Spahn.
For the first time since 2000, the Christian Democratic Party will be chaired by a man, Mr. Laschet, 59, a moderate regional leader.
On Saturday, in his speech at a “virtual” CDU congress, he made it clear that he wanted to lead the conservative camp to the general elections on September 26.
These elections will constitute a break in contemporary German history. They will mark the end of the reign of Angela Merkel, who has announced her retirement and will equal Helmut Kohl’s longevity record with 16 years in the chancellery.
Despite his success against the very right-hander Friedrich Merz, Mr Laschet, the current leader of Germany’s most populous region, North Rhine-Westphalia, is however not guaranteed to defend the conservative colors in September.
Only 28% of Germans believe he would make a good chancellor, according to a poll conducted for the ZDF on Friday.
The choice of the candidate of the German right, also clearly at the head of the voting intentions, should be made in March, after a series of regional elections.
Mr. Laschet is threatened by two popular leaders, who cultivate the vagueness of their intentions.
The first has become one of the favorites of the Germans thanks to the pandemic: Markus Söder, leader of Bavaria and of the sister party of the CDU, the CSU, thus culminates in the second place of the most popular personalities, behind the stainless Angela Merkel.
This colossus of 1m94, who knew how to refocus his image and make vibrate an ecological cord, has been a supporter since the beginning of strict measures against the pandemic, for which the Germans are grateful to him.
On Friday, the 54-year-old former journalist gave a unifying speech from Munich during the CDU congress. Shortly before, he had tweeted a photo of his new dog and greeted, in a cryptic message, the “relief” to come.
His omnipresence in the media, where he portrays himself as an effective crisis manager, “gave him an aura of savior”, abounds Der Spiegel.
The path to the Chancellery, however, promises to be complicated. No CSU official has ever held the post of Chancellor, Mr. Strauss in 1980 and Edmund Stoiber in 2002 both failed.
“It is interesting that Söder is seen as capable of becoming chancellor. But he has no federal political experience and no reliable network in Berlin ”, tempers Ursula Münch, professor of political science in Munich, for whom a“ candidacy for the post of chancellor ”would therefore be“ risky ”.
The other potential candidate has also gained popularity since the start of the pandemic, which he faces on the front line: the current Minister of Health Jens Spahn, only 40 years old and more to the right than Merkel on the chessboard .
Unhappy candidate in 2018 for the presidency of the CDU, this ambitious young man with an already busy career did not show up this time and formed a team with Mr. Laschet. He should thus exercise high functions at the CDU after the victory of Mr. Laschet.
The lukewarm support for Mr. Laschet during the internal campaign and rumors about his supposed ambitions for the highest march of power have created some turmoil internally.
“As a member of the CDU management, he will certainly be very involved in the search for the future candidate for the chancellery. But it is unlikely that he himself will join the ranks of the candidates for the chancellery, ”nevertheless believes Nils Diederich, professor of political science at the Free University of Berlin.
In addition to his support for Mr. Laschet, Mr. Spahn has indeed a lot to do with the pandemic, which has hit Germany head-on for several weeks. And after being praised, he now finds himself under fire from critics for the slowness of the vaccination campaign.