Can Armin Laschet Lead Germany’s CDU Into the Post-Merkel Era?

Can Armin Laschet Lead Germany’s CDU Into the Post-Merkel Era?
Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, in Duesseldorf, Germany, Aug. 18, 2020 (AP photo by Martin Meissner).

BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s preferred successor, Armin Laschet, might have won the leadership of her center-right Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, but he still faces an uphill battle to lead the country’s most powerful political force into a general election in September—the first of the post-Merkel era.

Though it was billed as a tight race, Laschet comfortably won Saturday’s intra-party election to succeed fellow Merkel ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as leader of the CDU. After a close first round earlier in the day eliminated reformist candidate Norbert Rottgen, Laschet rallied to win a runoff against Friedrich Merz, a right-leaning businessman and erstwhile rival of Merkel. The party’s rejection of Merz for the second time in as many years marks a resounding victory for the chancellor’s political legacy, staving off a lurch to the right on a host of issues from immigration to LGBT rights.

Laschet, the 59-year-old governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, is a symbol of stability and continuity for the post-Merkel era in both style and substance. He supports most of Merkel’s signature initiatives, including her open-door immigration policy. But it remains unclear whether he has what it takes to become Germany’s next chancellor.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.