Germany: Laschet faces 'battle' to be chancellor says expert
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The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader, who is now the frontrunner to become chancellor after Mrs Merkel in September, described his political style as a mixture of her “sobriety” and Mr Macron’s “passion” for European reforms. Speaking at the Brussels Forum 2021 on Thursday, Mr Laschet said his idea on how to run the country takes from both the German and the French leader.
He said: “I think that Angela Merkel’s sobriety has helped sometimes.
“On European issues, I have more of Macron’s passion.
“Maybe it has to do with where I come from.
“If you come from Aachen, then Paris is closer to you than Berlin distance-wise.”
Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron have locked horns on multiple issues in Brussels, with the French President pushing for more integration and the German leader worrying about the effect of a common budget for the eurozone being detrimental for German taxpayers.
Both leaders, however, have been strong proponents of the EU Recovery Fund since it was first introduced in the EU Commission – something that has often infuriated other leaders against the possibility of a greater Franco-German alliance.
Citizens across the bloc found Mr Laschet’s claim surprising.
One Twitter user said: “Laschet is a Macron-Merkel mix indeed: Merkel‘s indecisiveness paired with Macron‘s megalomania.”
And another: “On which planet should the ‘Macron-Merkel-Mix’ have a positive connotation?!”
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Someone else added: “The question is, what mix of both? Leaning towards red wine and not very empathetic?”
The CDU leader said he was on Merkel’s side on the recovery fund, agreeing with the German Chancellor’s belief that it should be a one-off fiscal measure for member states and not a permanent pooling of debts.
But in a bid to also please the French President, Mr Laschet said that “after the pandemic, we need a new dynamic”.
He added: “I can imagine treaty amendments for more Europe.
“In my opinion, a German chancellor, if he is woken up at 4 o’clock in the morning and there’s a crisis, he must immediately think: ‘How do we solve it on the European level?’
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“The thing to look at must always immediately be that we won’t be able to manage it alone.”
The German politician is the frontrunner in the upcoming federal elections.
His party will promise “a decade of modernisation” on Monday in an election programme intended to see off the fading challenge of their Green Party rivals.
The manifesto will counter the Greens’ offer of a “new start” and show the conservatives closing ranks after a divisive battle over who should be their candidate to replace Merkel, who will step down as chancellor after a September 26 federal election.
Mr Laschet hopes the programme will cement the conservatives’ recently regained lead over the Greens in opinion polls and secure victory in September.
Silvia Breher, a deputy leader of the CDU said: “We want to make the ’20s a decade of modernisation.
“We want to make our country better and protect the liberties of present and future generations: with effective climate protection, secure jobs, sound finances and fairness in social issues.”
Such policies are aimed at holding the political centre ground following the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and winning over voters hesitant about entrusting the chancellery to the less experienced Greens.
After enjoying strong popular support last year, the ruling ‘grand coalition’ of the CDU/CSU and the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) has seen voters grow more frustrated with its handling of the pandemic.
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