SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Germans set to choose Merkel successor next September 26th

The German government on Wednesday agreed on September 26th next year for the general election to choose a successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, a government spokeswoman said.

Germans set to choose Merkel successor next September 26th
Angela Merkel speaking on November 22nd. Photo: DPA

Merkel has said she will not stand for a fifth term and will retire from politics next year after 16 years at the helm of Europe's top economic power and the EU's most populous country.

Her departure will mark a new, less certain phase in German politics and at the heart of the European Union, whose rotating presidency Merkel currently holds.

The government “proposes to the federal president the date of Sunday, September 26th, 2021 for the election of the 20th Bundestag (lower house of parliament),” spokeswoman Martina Fietz told reporters.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier must still give his official approval.

The race to fill Merkel's shoes still looks wide open, as her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party remains embroiled in an increasingly bitter leadership battle that has been extended by the pandemic.

There are currently three hopefuls for the top job in Germany's biggest party, with a twice-delayed election for a new chief now scheduled for mid-January.

North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet, corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz and foreign affairs expert Norbert Röttgen are vying for the post.

The candidates have proposed an online congress if meeting in person were to be impossible because of restrictions to curb coronavirus transmission.

READ ALSO:

Pandemic uncertainty

The chief of the CDU traditionally leads it and its smaller Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union to the polls.

However given the failure of any of the Christian Democrat candidates to create real momentum at this early stage, CSU chief and Bavarian premier Markus Söder has been the focus of ardent speculation about a possible run.

READ ALSO: Is Bavaria's leader on course to become Germany's next chancellor?

Bavaria has been among the states hardest hit by coronavirus infections and Söder's robust response to the outbreak has won praise and given him an intense national spotlight.

He leads opinion polls against all three CDU candidates when Germans are asked who they would like to see as their next chancellor.

Markus Söder. Photo: DPA

Yet Germany's complex coalition maths, the uncertainty created by the pandemic and the absence of Merkel as a foregone conclusion in a German general election could well throw up other surprises.

The Social Democrats (SPD), the country's oldest party and junior partners in the “grand coalition” government, have haemorrhaged support as the centrist Merkel occupied and helped define the middle ground of Germany's
consensus-oriented politics during her long tenure.

However pollsters say a more conservative CDU leader could drive some Merkel voters into the arms of the SPD, or the ecologist Greens, in opposition since 2005.

The Greens have benefited from growing concern about the climate, particularly among young voters, while making lasting inroads among urban, affluent Germans.

Polls show increasing openness to a CDU-Greens coalition, which would be a first at the national level in Germany.

The pro-business Free Democrats, frequent kingmakers in German post-war politics, are currently polling in the single digits, as is the far-left Linke.

Meanwhile the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has about 10-percent support and is currently the biggest opposition force in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

But the mainstream parties have ruled out joining forces with it in government.

By Deborah Cole

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRAVEL NEWS

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

SHOW COMMENTS