Choosing A Chancellor: from Bavaria to Berlin?
The abrupt departure of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) from the race to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor leaves several potential CDU candidates vying for the opportunity. The immediate focus has been on three men who have been tagged to watch: Friedrich Merz, Jens Spahn, and Armin Laschet. Each appear viable. Merz, former CDU whip in the Bundestag, tried to win the position of chair of the CDU last year but lost to AKK by a thin margin. Jens Spahn, currently health minister in Merkel’s cabinet, represents the younger generation of the party with a conservative accent. Armin Laschet, current minister-president of Germany’s largest state, North Rhine-Westphalia, is a moderate in the party versus the more conservative Merz or Spahn. There is one additional name making the rounds as an outlier in the race: The minister-president of Schleswig-Holstein, Daniel Günther, who is currently in a coalition government with the Greens and the FDP. But there seems to be a three-way race for the chairmanship as of now.
How quickly this race can be concluded is not clear. Given the need to come up with a candidate to run in next year’s election by the end of this year, one might conclude that the chairman of the party will be that candidate. The tradition in the CDU has always been to have the two positions held by whoever is chancellor.