The choice is made.
This Monday evening, after several hours of meeting, the members of the executive committee of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) voted for Armin Laschet to represent them in the legislative elections in September, in the hope that he will become the new chancellor.
If the candidacy of the one who took the head of the conservative party in January seemed logical, it was for a time weighed against that of Markus Söder, leader of the CSU (the sister party of the CDU which acts only in Bavaria).
Despite the latter's popularity in the polls, it was Armin Laschet who was chosen to defend the CDU in the September 26 elections.
Der # CDU-Bundesvorstand hat sich mit breiter Mehrheit für @ArminLaschet als #Kanzlerkandidat ausgesprochen.
Es war eine lange & intensive Debatte der Mitglieder aus den 17 Landesverbänden, Kreisverbänden & Vereinigungen über Personen, Wahlaussichten & Stimmung an der Parteibasis.
- CDU Deutschlands (@CDU) April 19, 2021
It must be said that he offers real continuity with Angela Merkel.
“It is in the choice of compromise.
It is very moderate, it is the center embodied.
And the evolution of the CDU towards the center took place under Merkel ”, underlines Hélène Miard-Delacroix, professor at Sorbonne-University, specialist in contemporary Germany.
From a political point of view, he defends a European Germany, present in the world, and insists on multilateralism, on the search for a solution and on pacification.
"He's really a Merkel bis," smiles the professor.
"I think the two have a very different style all the same," adds Hans-Peter Stark, professor of German civilization at Sorbonne-University and adviser for Franco-German relations at IFRI.
Hélène Miard-Delacroix describes the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia as an "optimist". A character trait that was also felt in his management of the coronavirus. And even earned it targeted criticism from Angela Merkel. At the end of March, the Chancellor openly attacked the Länder who had decided to lift certain restrictions despite the increase in contamination. It even threatened to impose national measures, while the management of the health issue falls to the Länder. Armin Laschet, leader of the most populous region of the country, had for his part called to get out of the "pure logic of confinement". “He may have had a lighter foot, especially compared to Markus Söder. He was more quickly ready to ease measures considered to be strict. Regionally, we are grateful to him.And at the federal level, that does not harm it, ”comments Hélène Miard-Delacroix. However, it does not escape criticism from citizens towards the executive on the management of the health crisis. "He is less and less popular, including within his Land", explains the adviser for Franco-German relations at IFRI.
On a personal level, the 60-year-old - he turned 60 in February - is the father of three children.
He was first a journalist and then entered politics.
Before arriving at the head of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2017, he was a city councilor, deputy and MEP.
“He has experienced many defeats during his political career.
That explains why he does not give up in the face of adversity, ”comments Hans-Peter Stark.
Too kind and not very charismatic
According to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Armin Laschet is often "underestimated" because of his "jovial" and "too kind" side.
"He is not a great orator and he does not have a lot of charisma", abounds the professor of German civilization, but he "takes advantage of being underestimated to surprise everyone by winning".
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Moderate though it is, it is not immune to controversy.
In particular, he drew the wrath of some last summer, when he accused Romanian and Bulgarian workers of being at the origin of an outbreak of coronavirus in a slaughterhouse.
The health crisis - always it - has also earned him accusations of nepotism as part of an order for masks by his regional government from a brand whose merits his son had praised.
Five months before the legislative elections, the real question, for this potential heir to Angela Merkel, is whether he "will be able to impose himself with such firmness, if he will have the same strength of character", summarizes Professor Hans -Peter Stark.
"It is too early to tell," he concludes.