Strong public support for CDU/CSU, but questions remain on Merkel’s successor

Angela Merkel has again made it clear that she will not serve a fifth term in office. Markus Söder, who has the best chances of succeeding Merkel in the current polls, emphasises, however, that he wants to stay in Bavaria [EPA-EFE | Mika Schmidt/Pool]

Around three months after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Germany, public approval for the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and confidence in Chancellor Angela Merkel remain high.  Nevertheless, Merkel is still ruling out a fifth term in office. So how does it look for her potential successors? EURACTIV Germany reports.

If there had been a federal election last Sunday, the CDU/CSU would have reached 38%, according to the latest figures from the opinion research institute infratest dimap.

Public support for the CDU/CSU has remained at a consistently high level just three months after the first measures to combat the coronavirus were introduced in Germany. The poll results for other parties are significantly lower, but also constant.

The Greens would have become the second strongest party with about 19%, followed by the SPD on 15%. The FDP would have come in at 6%, the Left Party at 8%, and the far-right AfD would also have remained in the single digits at 9%.

Merkel stands firms against another run

The survey results for the conservative union reflect the satisfaction with the German government’s approach to the pandemic.

Merkel has been ranked number one among the most popular politicians in Germany for weeks, enjoying high levels of public approval.

In both the general population and politics, calls for her fifth term in office have become louder in recent weeks.

However, during a recent TV programme, when asked if she could imagine a fifth term in office, Merkel answered with a clear “no, not at all.” Her decision not to run for office again is “absolutely certain.”

Friedrich Merz does not view Söder as a competitor

At a party conference scheduled for December, the CDU will clarify the question of the party leadership and soon after, that of the chancellor.

In addition to Friedrich Merz (CDU) and Norbert Röttgen (CDU), North Rhine-Westphalia’s leader Armin Laschet (CDU) is also aiming to become party leader and thereby a likely candidate for chancellor.

According to the candidates, the real race for the party chair is unlikely to begin in earnest until autumn because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the discussion about who will succeed Merkel, as well as Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the CDU chair, is in full swing.

For weeks now, Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder (CSU) has ranked second among the most popular politicians in Germany behind Merkel.

According to a recent Spiegel survey, around 65% of CDU/CSU voters believe that the CDU/CSU with Söder as their candidate for chancellor would have the best chances of winning the federal elections. But Söder has recently repeatedly claimed that his place is in Bavaria

Merz lags far behind, with around 16% of those surveyed saying that he has better chances than his competitors Laschet and Röttgen. Merz recently told the daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he assumes the Bavarian leader “means sincerely what he said in this statement.”

However, Söder has also been ambiguous and he told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag in late May that the crisis has shown “who Germans trust in difficult times.”

Given that he enjoys significantly higher levels of trust than Merz, Laschet and Röttgen, it is obvious that things will only become clear in the autumn.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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