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Merkel’s Unsuccessful Inheritance: How German Leaders Couldn’t Keep Her Party in Power

Angela Merkel will go down in history as one of Germany’s most successful prime ministers. But for conservatives, her party’s defeat in last month’s general election has been an indelible part of her record.

Chancellor Merkel has failed to maintain the party’s power, one of the most basic tasks for senior politicians. The September 26 election was to bring her Christian Democratic Union back into power, this time under Armin Laschet. Instead, Rachette and the party performed disastrously. Many have accused Merkel, a longtime representative of the CDU, for neglecting to care for electable successors and alienating its core conservative voters.

“The CDU is at a low stage in its history, and of course people will ask how much Merkel has contributed to this, among other reasons,” said the CDU MP and head of the party’s Hamburg branch. Christoph Pros said. “After all, she was the leader of our party for 18 years.”

Others are worse. “She really ignored the party for years,” said one conservative backbencher. “Look at how she left it. It’s part of her heritage.”

Merkel’s CDU, along with Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union, won 24.1% of the votes. This is a decrease of about 9 percentage points compared to 2017. This was a disaster for the alliance that has run Germany for 52 of the last 72 years. He sees himself as a natural party of government.

The election was slightly won by the Social Democratic Party and its candidate, the Finance Minister. Olaf Scholz.. The SPD has begun discussions with the Greens and the Liberal Democratic Party on the formation of Germany’s first three-party coalition government since the 1950s.

On the day those negotiations began, the CDU / CSU candidate for prime minister, Rachette, succumbed to pressure from within the party and he Ready to resign.. If so, the CDU will face a third leader election within three years.

Former CDU leader Annegret Kramp Karenbauer finds himself trapped in the shadow of Merkel © Markus Schreiber / AP

Many have blamed the poor outcome of the CDU / CSU elections in Rachette, whose approval rate has always been far behind that of Scholz, and instead runs with the popular Markus Söder, the leader of the CSU. Say it should have been. “The fundamental mistake was to choose a candidate who had nothing to do with the majority of voters, and to do so against the party’s rank and the will of File,” Pros said.

That was the decision MerkelSince running for leadership in 2018, he has tended to move away from intra-party politics, but hasn’t reached out.

However, some senior Christian Democrats say Merkel is at least partially responsible for the plight of the CDU.

First, she resigned as leader in 2018, but decided to remain prime minister. That meant that both her successors as party leaders (first Annegret Kramp Karenbauer, then Rachette) had a hard time getting out of her shadow.

Widely regarded as Merkel’s favored heir, Crump Karenbauer continued as a leader for over a year. She resigned in February 2020 and said she had “one-handed” two jobs, the prime minister and the party leader. Remarks at the time were seen as criticism of Merkel’s refusal to give way at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Merkel’s eight-year finance minister and now chairman of the Federal Assembly, Wolfgang Shoble, reiterated that last month, saying in an interview with the Tagespiegel that “the two functions are definitely confident.” rice field. [of party leader and chancellor] Must be run by the same person. “

Rachette noticed that he was trying to run behind a “successful veteran prime minister,” Chevre suggested. “He can’t say’we do everything differently’, but we can’t say’we continue as usual’. After serving as Prime Minister Angela Merkel for 16 years, it is now a problem for my party. “

Wolfgang Shoble watches Angela Merkel make a speech last year

Federal Speaker Wolfgang Schwarz (left) watches Prime Minister Angela Merkel give a speech in the conference room last year © Tobias Schwarz / AFP via Getty Images

Merkel’s decision to resign as CDU chair unleashes a power struggle within the party between liberals and conservatives, and both Crump Karenbauer and Rachette are considered moderates in line with the prime minister, making them more right-wing. Faced with constant sniping from the camp. It’s an unresolved dispute.

Some CDUs have accused Merkel of eroding the party’s identity. Christian Democrats have come to dominate the political center of Germany. Her government pursued modernization agendas, including the introduction of the minimum wage, the abolition of forced military service, the closure of the German nuclear power plant, and the introduction of gay marriage.

In the process, she released the CDU to the middle-aged voters’ band. However, she alienated the conservatives at the party. Anger intensified after her decision to accept hundreds of thousands of Syrian war refugees in 2015. This move infuriated hardliners and led to the massive asylum of traditionalist voters on options for the far right Germany.

“For years, we have just enacted social democratic policies,” said the CDU backbencher. “I lost my profile.”

Some even wondered if Merkel was more sympathetic to Green than his party. She was angry when she met climate activist Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, head of the German school for Friday, at the Prime Minister’s Office last year.

Andreas Gutenberg, a historian at the University of Mainz, said: “We can understand why people have serious doubts about it, especially after the Greta incident.”

Conservative parliamentarians say voters did not know what the CDU meant, 16 years after Merkel’s centrist politics.

“Public polls show that we have lost issues that should be our core competencies, such as foreign policy and economic policy,” Pros said. “The obvious point from this election is that the CDU needs to expand its appeal.”

Some have made personal conclusions. Crump Karenbauer and economic minister Peter Altmaier announced on Saturday that they would not occupy parliamentary seats to give way to younger colleagues.

“After such a defeat, the CDU … I need to update myself,” Altmaier said. “It was clear to me on election night, and that everyone has to start from themselves.”

Merkel’s Unsuccessful Inheritance: How German Leaders Couldn’t Keep Her Party in Power

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