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Who Will Succeed Merkel?

Germany's Christian Democrats are poised to choose a new party leader, and that person is almost certain to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel when she steps down in September 2021. All three contenders must somehow distinguish themselves from their rivals while boldly campaigning for continuity.

HAMBURG – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has ruled the 71-year-old Federal Republic for a total of 50 years. When she steps down next fall after 16 years in office, it is safe to assume that another Christian Democrat will succeed her. Who will it be?

Within the next few weeks, the CDU will hold its 33rd party convention, and choose a new leader. Whoever it is will most likely be anointed as the CDU’s candidate for chancellor when Merkel steps down, and there is little doubt that the CDU will come out on top in next September’s general election, whereupon it will take the lead in forming the next government.

The three men vying for the party’s top job are not household names abroad. The first (going in alphabetical order) is Armin Laschet, the minister-president of North Rhine-Westphalia and a longtime party workhorse whose charisma does not match his competence.