In October 2018, the current German Chancellor announced that she would stand down as leader of the CDU at the party convention, and would not seek a fifth term as Chancellor in 2021. Ms Merkel’s 16 year tenure is drawing to an end, which means whoever is elected as leader of the party will have a good chance of following in her footsteps at the top job.
But the race between three candidates has faced scrutiny over who could potentially fill Ms Merkel’s shoes next year.
Armin Laschet, a moderate, Friedrich Merz, a conservative, and Norbert Röttgen, a top foreign policy expert, are the official candidates to lead the party.
However, Jens Spahn, the country’s health minister, has been hailed as a fitting head of party after his popularity skyrocketed in polls thanks to his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But One CDU official told the Financial Times he would not betray Mr Laschet.
They said: “There’s a saying here: ‘In politics you love betrayal but you hate the betrayer.”
One CDU MP told the publication: “If Spahn were to change places with Laschet, I would definitely vote for him.”
On the contrary, the candidates have faced criticism over a lack of enthusiasm.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) addressed the issue in an opinion piece.
The author wrote: “There’s paradoxical situation in the CDU. There are three candidates for the party leadership but none of them inspire much enthusiasm.”
Robert Vehrkamp, a political scientist at the Bertelsmann Foundation, questioned whether any of the three men will be suited to face the political changes set to shake Germany after Ms Merkel’s departure.
Speaking about the future of the party, he said: “It doesn’t seem to be addressing its key problem — what kind of party does it want to be in the post-Merkel era? What should its policies be?”
Meanwhile, Ms Merkel recently came under fire herself over her Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis after countries such as the UK fast-tracked a vaccine for the pathogen.
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She has been fiercely questioned about measures taken to tackle the latest surge in infections.
Germany’s best selling newspaper, Bild, wrote of the second lockdown: “The bitter truth is that Germany has to close not solely because of corona but also because of the political handling of corona.”
Bild noted the delayed vaccine rollout in Germany despite the fact BioNTech is based in Mainz.
It said in a separate editorial: “It’s just beyond belief. The world is celebrating the Biontech vaccine developed in Germany.