Merkel: Markus Söder could be her successor suggests expert
Mrs Merkel was last week replaced by the centrist Mr Laschet. On winning the party vote, Mr Laschet said there will unlikely be any change under his leadership, having been described as the “continuity” candidate. He now heads Germany’s majority party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
However, he will not automatically become Chancellor when Mrs Merkel steps down later this year.
Mr Laschet must be nominated as a candidate to run for Chancellor by the CDU for the September national elections, with a handful of opponents also in the running to challenge the Premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state.
Many have now turned to a damning poll that shows how Markus Söder, the Bavarian Minister President and leader of the Christian Social Union – the CDU’s sister party – is favoured more by Germans than Mr Laschet for Chancellor.
Should Mr Söder successfully run for the post in September, it might have dire consequences for the European Union (EU).
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The Bavarian minister is an outspoken critic of the EU and has been labelled a “eurosceptic” meaning Mr Söder is widely seen as an “anti-Merkel” candidate.
In a poll carried out by Civey this month, just 12.1 percent of Germans think Mr Laschet should become Chancellor, compared to 43 percent who would prefer Mr Söder.
It is telling of German sentiment for the EU and Mrs Merkel’s legacy, which has largely been characterised by a push for greater integration into the bloc, with Germany having taken a leading role in Brussels.
Mr Söder has previously said that “the Germans do not want a multicultural society”.
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While Mrs Merkel and Mr Laschet welcomed an influx of Syrian migrants at the height of the civil war, Mr Söder was attempting to close Germany’s borders.
He expressed the view that some migrants are “impossible” to integrate, and that some should return when the war ends.
According to The Independent, Mr Söder “does not see why the prosperous taxpayers of Munich, Nuremberg and Ingolstadt should be sending money off to support the likes of Greece and Italy (even if the Italians and Greeks then use it to buy BMWs and Audis made in Bavaria”.
He has said that he prefers the idea of funnelling those funds towards poorer, less developed parts of Germany, one of the selling points of the Leave vote in the UK.
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Mr Söder has also expressed wariness at pursuing Mrs Merkel’s, and by proxy Mr Laschet’s, further integration into Europe.
It is worth noting, however, that Mr Söder himself has not yet declared whether he will run for Germany’s top office.
The post he currently holds as Bavarian Minister is a much sought after role, and many political commentators note he might not want to give up.
More recently, Mr Söder lashed out at the EU for its “inadequate” coronavirus vaccine purchasing procedure.
His frustration came as the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, which was created in Germany, was being rolled out outside the bloc weeks before it was given the green light at home.
Hinting at Brussels’ lack of logistical planning, he said: “The European Commission has probably planned too bureaucratically: too few of the right ones have been ordered and price debates have gone on for too long.”
Interestingly, Mr Söder looked to the future, and said: “The time factor is crucial.
“If Israel, the US or the UK are far ahead of us in vaccination, they will also benefit economically.
“The question of how we get through corona economically is closely related to how quickly we get through with vaccination.”
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