Germany: Conservatives Choose Candidate for Chancellor

…but the next person in charge could be a woman again

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

It was obvious that the CDU Federal Executive Board last weekend would push through its own party colleague and not the man from the sister party, the Bavarian CSU. After all, there are many members on the board with their own ambitions for power. The meeting, the outcome of which was a foregone conclusion, had been more or less arranged to ensure Bavaria’s popular Minister President Markus Soeder (CSU) a face-saving retreat.

At the CDU base, the mood probably looks a bit more honest: Most of the regular party members would have preferred Soeder as their candidate for chancellor, and with him the conservatives would probably have a better chance winning the upcoming federal elections this September. Now, the two-party-Union consisting of CDU and CSU (the latter exists only in the Free State of Bavaria) is in for a payday for playing a lousy power game: For it would be a surprise if Germany’s next chancellor is to be the far less popular Armin Laschet.

Instead, after Angela Merkel’s retirement this coming September, it might well come down to a female chancellor once again, as the Green Party is at a polling high and could emerge as the strongest party nationwide for the first time. Consequently, for the first time in their history, they are competing with their own candidate for chancellor. The party leadership has recently decided on the 40-year-old, resolute Annalena Baerbock without any further ado – quite in contrast to the grueling, pernicious power struggle in the conservative CDU/CSU.

Although many experts fear negative economic consequences in the event of a Green government takeover, it must be borne in mind that there will hardly be an absolute majority possible for just one party in Germany. In that sense, it is almost certain that the country will continue to be governed by a multi-party coalition, maybe even with the conservatives as junior-partner involved. Such government naturally operates on the basis of compromise. But even in this scenario, the Greens can give priority to their dominant issue, climate protection – supported by the broad public opinion that climate change is caused by humans and must be urgently counteracted; a view held also across all political camps with the exception of the polarizing and in parts extreme right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

It feels like the next generation is already knocking on the door in my home country to take on top political responsibility. Approval for this seems to come from almost all camps. 30 years ago, when I was a city commissioner for the CDU in my little hometown of Wolmirstedt, the party book still played a dominant role. But in the historically short time that has passed since then, the whole world has changed dizzyingly. As a consequence, thinking between party lines has become more and more mixed, out of the need to solve increasingly complex problems together – not only across parties, but also across countries. The Coronavirus is only the most prominent example of many.

Although there is still a lot of water to flow down the Rhine before Germany’s election in September, I can very well imagine the next woman in the German chancellorship. And why not? Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, especially New Zealand – all these countries have relatively young women at the head of their governments, and they almost all do well with it. Above all, Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister of New Zealand does an excellent, refreshing job – almost completely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

So, in Germany it could be Annalena. Let her do it.

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