Three-quarters of Germans think new CDU leader Laschet ‘not suitable choice for Chancellor’

Following bitter losses for the Christian Democrats (CDU) in two state elections, pressure is growing on the new CDU leader and possible candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet. A new survey shows that the North Rhine-Westphalian state premier is falling short of expectations.

Three-quarters of Germans think new CDU leader Laschet 'not suitable choice for Chancellor'
Laschet speaking at a press conference on Monday following the election results. Photo: DPA

According to a new survey, the majority of Germans do not consider Laschet a suitable candidate for German Chancellor in federal elections set to be held on September 26th. Current Chancellor Angela Merkel will be stepping down after a 16-year reign. 

READ ALSO: These are the dates you need to know for Germany’s ‘super election year’

A full 73.1 percent of respondents do not consider the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia to be the right candidate in light of the lagging CDU election results, according to a survey conducted by the Civey institute. Only 14.7 percent of respondents were in favour of Laschet.

On Sunday Merkel’s CDU garnered just 24 percent of the vote in the wealthy state of Baden-Württemberg, down from 27 percent five years ago, results showed.

In neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate, popular state premier Malu Dreyer powered the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) to another victory with a score of around 36 percent.

The CDU slumped to around 28 percent, down from almost 32 percent in 2016.

Sunday’s low results were blamed on voter frustration over a sluggish vaccine rollout, a delayed start to mass rapid testing and higher infection numbers despite months of shutdowns.

READ ALSO: Merkel’s CDU party admits Covid failings after defeat in regional polls

Lack of support among CDU supporters

This could explain why, according to the survey, Laschet also has little support among CDU supporters themselves. Among those surveyed who plan to vote for the CDU in the next election, 72.5 percent believe the 60-year-old is not the right candidate for chancellor of the CDU/CSU. 

Only 16.4 percent think Laschet is the right man. For the survey, 5,080 population-representative participants were interviewed between March 14th and 15th.

A soft-spoken political moderate with a reputation for pragmatism, Laschet has previously come under scrutiny for controversial comments regarding the coronavirus and its management. 

In February, he took a stab at Merkel government’s coronavirus strategy, urging it not to “treat citizens like helpless children” and in came under fire in January after accusing eastern Europeans of “importing” new Covid-19 cases to Germany.

READ ALSO: Who is the new head of Germany’s conservative CDU party?

Laschet had prevailed in January in the race for the CDU presidency against former CDU/CSU parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz and CDU foreign policy expert Norbert Röttgen.

The conservative candidate for German chancellor is likely to be named soon after Easter, with the other possible candidate being CSU leader and Bavarian state premiere Markus Söder.

Member comments

  1. I consider Armin Laschet a good man in principle, but not Kanzler material. A conservative party´s inner workings will almost always be slightly more liberal than the party line whilst the party´s core voters will be more conservative than the official party line. It is easy in this country, where party events, Parteitag etc seem to be rolled out endlessly like a Boy Scouts fair, that the votership is about much much more than that. The Left leaners will see him as ineffective and unlikely to be tough enough to make any effective social change, whilst the Right will see him as weak willed and un-Statesmanlike.
    He would be like the Dominic Hollande of Germany were he to be Kanzler, perhaps a political class election choice, but not that of the people.

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Germany’s centre-right CDU to elect new leadership by end of the year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party will elect its new leadership by the year's end, general secretary Paul Ziemiak said Monday, detailing plans for a clean slate after a disastrous election that the party lost to the Social Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

In power for 16 years under Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in decades after turning in a historic low score in September’s election.

Its leader Armin Laschet last week signalled his readiness to step aside, setting the ball rolling for renewal at the top.

READ ALSO: Laschet signals he’s ready to step down as CDU leader

Ziemiak said a date for the congress to determine the new makeup of the party’s top brass as well as how rank and file members can participate in the leadership selection process will be announced on November 2nd.

But the party’s leaders “today agreed unanimously that we will elect a completely new executive board,” he said, adding that in terms of the calendar, the “window for this is year’s end”.

Bild daily had reported that the party has made a tentative booking for December 6th-13th in Dresden for its possible congress.

READ ALSO: Germany edges a step closer to a government led by Social Democrats

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected head of the CDU in January.

For some time, he was the clear favourite to succeed Merkel, who is bowing out of politics after running four consecutive coalitions.

But his party’s ratings began to slide as he committed a series of gaffes, including being caught on camera laughing in the background during a solemn tribute to flood victims.

With the CDU’s ratings plunging, Merkel tried to boost Laschet’s campaign with joint appearances, but was unable to help the conservatives pull off a win on election day.