After Merkel, What?

After Merkel, What?

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

We talk to Hans Kundnani about the prospects for German politics in the run-up to September's federal elections, now that the cast list of possible successors to Merkel is known. Can Laschet escape from her shadow and does he want to? Would a Green led government be radically different from the alternatives? Is the age of the 'grand coalition' over? Plus we consider the historical parallels, from Bismarck to Adenauer to Kohl: do long-serving leaders ever manage a successful transition?

Talking Points:

To wrap up the second season of History of Ideas, on 11 May, the LRB is hosting a conversation between David and Pankaj Mishra. They’ll discuss the thinkers we did—and didn’t talk about. To book tickets, follow this link.

Armin Laschet is the new CDU leader.

So far, his candidacy has been underwhelming. He is generally seen as being a Merkelite candidate who would probably continue her centrist, grand-coalition style.Is the CDU pinning its hopes on the vaccine? If Germany gets it together in the next few months, the party in power will likely reap the benefits despite current polling woes.The personality of the lead candidate is less of a determining factor in German politics; you don’t vote for an individual chancellor. 

Is the era of grand coalition politics between the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats coming to an end?

There is a real possibility that the party that has run Germany for the last four electoral periods might not get a fifth.Of course it’s still likely that the Christian Democrats will stay in power, but even the possibility that they won’t contributes to a new sense of dynamism. 

The German Greens hope to be in power too—with the Christian Democrats.

There’s been a convergence during the Merkel Era.The Christian Democrats have moved to the center on social issues. It’s no longer clear that the Greens would prefer to be in coalition with the Social Democrats. They have moved to the right, especially on economic issues.Geopolitics may push the Greens more toward the Christan Democrats, especially re Russia.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Hans’ book, The Paradox of German PowerOur last episode with HansThe letter written by French generals

Further Learning: 

5 things to know about Armin LaschetThe Astonishing Rise of Angela Merkel, from the New YorkerMore on the German Greens

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here:

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