As the end of Angela Merkel’s fourth term as German chancellor looms, her party, the ruling Christian Democratic Union, elects its new leader.
The three front-runners (Armin Laschet, Norbert Röttgen and Friedrich Merz) in the race to replace Frau Merkel are all family men and Catholic. What is more, they all hail from North Rhine-Westphalia and see themselves as ‘centrist politicians, firmly rooted in the middle ground of German politics’, German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports.
The CDU’s leadership comes at a difficult time for the ruling party as it tries to recover from the disastrous election in 2017, which saw the arrival in the Bundestag of the far-right Alternative fur Deutscheland, in which it lost some 65 seats in the Bundestag.
The dilemna facing the party is how to choose between ‘Merkelism’, centrism that can distinguish itself from either far-right or far-left, and the adoption of a more approach conservative approach that could bring disaffected voters back into their ranks from the AfD.
Friedrich Merz, a law and order free marketeer is the most conservative of the three up for Merkels’ job – having voted against the criminilization of rape within marriage in 1997. However, he is considered to by many to be beyond the pale for the party, and was labelled the German Donald Trump by politico in November last year.
Norbert Röttgen is better suited among the party establishment, but Armin Laschet, whose proven track-record and good-natured ability to find political consensus, is in poll position.