Volunteer writer Leah Langley outlines the achievements of the German Chancellor, and answers the question on the minds of many: who will succeed Angela Merkel?
Angela Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She is the first female chancellor, and the first chancellor since German reunification to have been brought up in the former East Germany. She has widely been described as the most powerful woman in the world by many onlookers and has gained much respect form her German citizens as well as many other people of the world. Since being in power, Merkel has been sure to make her mark within the political world. In 2009, at the federal election, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) obtained the largest share of the vote meaning that Merkel was able to form a coalition government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). At the next federal election, in 2013, Merkel’s part won 41.5% of the vote which was a landslide victory that allowed for her to form a second grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP). In the 2017 federal election, the CDU won for the fourth time and Merkel was sworn in for a joint-record fourth term as Chancellor on March 14th, 2018.
Merkel has spearheaded international cooperation in the European Union and NATO to help strengthen transatlantic economic relations. During her term, in 2007, she was appointed as the President of the European Council and was a vital part of negotiating the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration whilst also managing the Global Financial Crisis and the European Debt Crisis. Alongside her incredible work in foreign policy, she has also made waves in domestic policy as her “Energiewende” programme has focused on future energy development in Germany with the hopes of phasing out nuclear power, reducing greenhouse gas emission, and increasing renewable energy sources. She has also faced many other issues such as Health Care reform, the 2010s Migrant Crisis and the COVID-19 Pandemic. In 2014, Merkel became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union, but in October of 2018 she announced that she would step down as the leader of the CDU party during the convention in December 2018, and she also announced that she would not be seeking a fifth term as Chancellor in 2021.
Merkel did not suggest anyone as her successor, however it had long been considered that Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer would take over the role a she was widely seen as the chancellor’s favourite for the post and she was voted to succeed Merkel as leader of the CDU in December of 2018. However, in February 2020, Kramp-Karrenbauer announced her resignation as party leader of the CDU in the summer after her succession was defied when party member in Thuringia voted with Alternative for Germany to support an FDP candidate for minister-president. In the wake of her announcement, Armin Laschet appeared to have the lead on taking over from Merkel, but his supporters soon changed their mind after the coronavirus pandemic hit as his response raised many questions about his judgement. Many other competitors who were also thought to be front runners have dropped off for a variety of reasons and the seemingly weak field has now opened to door for Markus Söder.
Söder’s popularity rose during the crisis as he pursued a “resolute course” to bring the pandemic under control. He has seen his approval rating surge to nearly 90 percent and seems to lead the field by a wide margin as many people view him as suitable chancellor. Whilst he is yet to confirm his running, he hasn’t shied away from the media’s eyes and it seems that the hopes of many Germans lie at his feet.
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Article edited by Connor Wade – Politics Editor