Merkel’s staying power: Two-thirds of Germans want Chancellor to serve final term

The majority of Germans want Angela Merkel to stay on as Chancellor until the end of her term in 2021, according to a new survey.

Merkel's staying power: Two-thirds of Germans want Chancellor to serve final term
Merkel meets basketball players during a visit to Chemnitz, Saxony, earlier this month. Photo: DPA

Just over two thirds – 67 percent – of those questioned in the Forsa survey commissioned by RTL/n-tv, said they were in favour of Merkel, of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), remaining Chancellor until it’s time for a new election, Zeit reported.

SEE ALSO: Dream team? What Merkel's ally's party win means for the Chancellor and the CDU

It means Merkel's approval ratings have risen by 12 percentage points since February 2018, signalling that the CDU politiician, who became Chancellor in 2005 and was CDU leader for 18 years, is still in favour with the general public. At that time only 55 percent of Germans wanted Merkel to remain in office until 2021.

Forsa interviewed 1,508 voters across Germany from March 6th to 8th for the survey.

Voters of all political parties in Germany except the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) would like Merkel to stay in office, Forsa said. Only 29 percent of all respondents wanted Merkel, the head of Germany's government, to resign early. 

'Hand over Chancellorship to AKK'

There have been questions over Merkel's future at the top since she announced her intention in October last year to step down both as Chancellor and as leader of the CDU. In December last year Merkel handed the CDU leadership onto Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known as AKK, who was elected by the party as the new chief.

SEE ALSO: End of an era – What you need to know about Merkel's planned departure

Merkel said she intended to remain Chancellor until 2021.

But the debate flared up again recently after some Social Democrat (SPD) politicians threatened to break the current so-called 'grand coalition' that is made up of the CDU, its sister party the Christian Socialists (CSU) and the SPD if Merkel was replaced by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer before the end of the parliamentary term.

It came after Alexander Mitsch, chairman of the “Werteunion” , the conservative wing of the CDU/CSU, had pleaded for change in the Chancellery. In the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper Mitsch called on Merkel to hand over her office to CDU chairman Kramp-Karrenbauer sooner rather than later.

“It would be best for the CDU/CSU if Ms. Merkel would hand over her office to AKK in an orderly fashion and as soon as possible,” Mitsch said.

On Thursday, the leaders of the coalition parties will again meet in a committee to discuss current controversial issues within the government.

SEE ALSO: 'Merkel appreciates Feierabend': CDU Scot gives the inside scoop

More than half in favour of new elections

If Merkel resigned before the end of her term, 56 percent of those surveyed would be in favour of new elections, according to the poll.

Only 12 percent would like a continuation of the grand coalition, while 17 percent would be interested in seeing a coalition of the CDU/CSU, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens.

Meanwhile, 8 percent would like to see a minority government of the CDU, CSU and Greens.

If Merkel gave up the chancellor's office earlier, 39 percent of those eligible to vote would want Kramp-Karrenbauer as her successor, while 28 percent would like to see Friedrich Merz, who was a candidate for the CDU leadership, take over as Chancellor.

Meanwhile, 33 percent of those questioned would prefer neither of the two from the ranks of the CDU.


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Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.