Macron to clash with Angela Merkel successor to remain ‘best known’ leader in EU

Macron’s approach to Merkel successor discussed by expert

Professor of European Politics Simon Bulmer explained relations between France and Germany have been under pressure recently. He claimed that the new German Chancellor faces a “real issue” if it is not able to form a relationship with France. Speaking on Roundtable, Professor Bulmer said: “I guess there will be some impact from Merkel no longer being the German leader.

“I think the real issue is how far her successor is able to able to form a relationship with France because the Franco-German relationship has been a little bit tense at times recently.

“We shouldn’t forget how these consolation of political leaders in the EU27 plays out and often that’s a matter of personality.

“Macron would become the best known political figure in the EU.

“He’s much more of a visionary so how would that play for the successful candidate?”

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The CDU elects a new chairman on Saturday, but none of the three contenders impresses voters, leaving the party wondering how best to replace Merkel, a proven election winner who has become Europe’s predominant leader since taking office in 2005.

Centrist Armin Laschet, arch-conservative Friedrich Merz and foreign policy expert Norbert Roettgen are battling it out.

Merkel said last year Laschet, 59, had “the tools” to lead Europe’s biggest economy and most populous country, but voters find him uninspiring.

Enter Markus Soeder.

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The burly, confident leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is voters’ choice conservative. He senses a unique chance to assert himself as a unifier, or else as chancellor candidate.

“Soeder will either play the role of king, or of kingmaker,” a CDU Executive Committee member told Reuters.

The three declared CDU candidates all differ from Merkel.

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Roettgen, 55, the eloquent chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, wants Germany to take a firmer stance with Russia and China. Merz, 65, has targeted European Central Bank policy and is less diplomatic. Laschet, who has polished his international profile, complains Berlin has taken “too long to react” to French calls for European Union reform.

Soeder, 54, Bavaria’s premier, is a political chameleon who has shifted from the right towards the moderate centre of late, though remains an unknown on foreign policy.

He plays coy about his ambitions – “My place is in Bavaria” has been his repeated refrain.

But the Bavarian’s lieutenants are already manoeuvring for the CDU/CSU alliance, the “Union”, to pick the chancellor candidate most likely to win September’s election, rather than simply default to the CDU party leader, as is traditional.

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