Who will be the next Chancellor after Merkel?

According to the latest authoritative “Deutschland Trend” poll, published by TV1 on April 16, the Green Party has 21 percent of the voters’ support, only less than the CDU and CSU (28%), and far ahead of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the coalition partner in the current government, and the other main parties.

Arne Jungjohann, a political scientist with the Heinrich Bohr Foundation in Germany, said that even before the COVID-19 outbreak, tackling climate change and the related energy and transportation transformation had already topped the list of issues that German voters were most concerned about. “Climate is a long-term issue. It’s not going to go away with the pandemic, and it’s not going to be forgotten when it’s over.”

The climate issue is expected to gradually return to the centre of German public opinion this year, according to Arne Jongerjohann. He pointed out that, at present, the strategy advantage that the greens have is that any one possible to form a government after the election scheme will not be able to bypass it, whether it is black and green combination (alliance – the greens), Jamaica combination (league, the green party, the liberal Democratic Party (LDP)) or combination of “traffic light” (the greens, the SPD, the FDP).

A source also said the Greens had a high chance of entering government after the September election. He expects the Greens to play an important role in Germany’s political landscape for a long time.

League candidate: a contest between two governors

Within Merkel’s own coalition party, the race for a candidate for chancellor has heated up.Recently, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) chairman, NRW state premier Raschet and CSU chairman, Bavarian state premier Zed have publicly stated their intention to run for the next chancellor.

In the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, the CSU was only active in Bavaria, while the CDU carried out political activities in other states except Bavaria. The two parties participated in every general election under the name of “Union Party”, and formed “Union Party Group” to enter the Bundestag. By convention, the League usually picks the CDU chairman as its candidate for chancellor. In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany elected its first chancellor, Adenauer, and the subsequent five chancellors, including Erhard, Kissinger, Kohl and Merkel, have all served as the CDU’s chairman, while the CSU has never produced a chancellor .Erhard is a Bavarian, but represents the CDU.

Mr Raschet is widely seen as a successor to, and preferred by, Merkel. After both men announced their intention to run, CDU and CSU leaders expressed support for their respective party presidents. The authoritative poll, however, showed Mr. Zed with 44 percent support among ordinary voters, far more than Mr. Rushert’s 15 percent. Among League supporters, Mr Zed had 72% of the vote, compared with 17% for Mr Rushet.

On April 18, Wegener,Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Berlin state branch chairman,told German media that in his view, the majority of CDU members support Zedd as a candidate for chancellor. He proposed that both parties could consider running Mr Zed as a joint candidate, with Mr Russert staying on as “strong party chairman”.

As of press time, Rushert and Zed were still at loggerheads. The League group in the Bundestag is expected to hold a meeting on Thursday to make a final decision on the candidate for prime minister.

As of April 18, 79,914 people in Germany have died from the novel Coronavirus infection.

Flags flew at half-mast across the country as officials held a ceremony in Berlin to honor those who died in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mrs.Merkel faces a difficult balancing act between fighting the epidemic and campaigning

Merkel has said little on election issues since Raschet was elected as CDU leader in January.Her biggest test now will be how to push through the Bundestag a law that would give the federal government more authority to fight the pandemic and help Germany recover from the continuous third wave of COVID-19.

Since the draft amendment law recently passed by Merkel’s cabinet is considered by many parties to violate the principle of federalism decentralization established in Germany after World War II, and to substantially transfer the authority of epidemic prevention to the federal government, it has not only aroused strong dissatisfaction from many states and opposition parties, but also sharply criticized by the co-ruling Social Democratic Party and demanded the amendment of the draft.

Looking back at her 16 years in power, Merkel has led Germany through the global financial crisis, the European debt crisis and the refugee crisis, and is still dealing with the crisis caused by COVID-19. However, as the anti-epidemic cycle continues to last, Mrs Merkel will have to face a growing backlash from the public. In late March, Merkel announced the implementation of the “strictest blockade” on Easter after a whole night negotiation with the states governors, but withdrew the decision only one day later under pressure. And Merkel had to apologize to the country.

“The League party is in a state of flux, given the jousting of top candidates, the ongoing investigation into a corruption scandal involving parliamentarians, and ‘programmatic fatigue’ from more than 15 years in power.” Arne Jungjohann says.

As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said, this is the “last crisis” from which Mrs.Merkel will have to lead her country to overcome.