We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.

February 26, 2020

Laschet/Spahn vs Merz vs Röttgen

Two of the candidates in the CDU’s leadership contest have jointed forces. Armin Laschet, the state premier of North-Rhine Westphalia, has teamed up with Jens Spahn as his running mate. The duo Laschet/Spahn will run against Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen. Polls among CDU members have put both Merz and Röttgen well ahead of Laschet and Spahn, indeed ahead of the sum-total of the two. Nevertheless, as FAZ points out, the Laschet/Spahn team must now be considered the frontrunner in the contest because the decision will be taken by CDU delegates, not by members. Laschet’s North-Rhine Westphalian branch is the largest in the party. While all three candidates stem from the region, Laschet controls that section of the party. He and Spahn straddle a broad spectrum of the party and are likely to follow the policies of Angela Merkel. 

There is no point making predictions at this stage. It is more useful to think about developments that might favour either Laschet/Spahn or Merz, who we think is the other significant contender. The big issue for delegates will be which of the teams will be best placed to arrest the CDU’s decline in the polls. The party is hopelessly split on the issue of how to confront the AfD. Laschet sees the Greens, not the AfD, as his main competitor. Merz believes that there are more votes to be won on the right than on the left.

Laschet has two issues around his neck that might come to haunt him. One is his support of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Laschet’s decision to commission a new coal-fired power station also casts doubt on previous beliefs that he would be the ideal partner for a coalition with the Greens. He also caused surprise with his comment that he does not understand why climate change has risen to the top of the political agenda. The biggest risk to Spahn, who is the federal health minister, would be a badly-handled coronavirus outbreak.

Röttgen’s candidacy is refreshing for its pro-Europeanism and transatlanticism, but it is unlikely to be successful. He does not have a strong support base among the party's rank-and-file. If he loses out, most of his support will go to Laschet/Spahn. 

The decision will be taken at a special party conference on April 25. It will be a knock-out contest. If no candidate has an absolute majority in the first round, the two best-placed candidates go into a second round where the winner is chosen by a relative majority.

Show Comments Write a Comment

February 26, 2020

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael explore compatibility

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael met for exploratory talks yesterday. It is still too early to talk about a coalition between the two. After the meeting Leo Varadkar continues to hammer the message that he is preparing his party for opposition. He is unlikely to ask for a mandate to start coalition talks when he meets his MPs today. But both parties also leave the door open for a coalition to emerge eventually.

If the two parties were to form a coalition it would be a historic event. It is not so much that their policies are incompatible, as both have moved considerably towards the centre and worked together under the last Fine Gael minority government. But their cultures are different, as they used to define the opposite sides of the political landscape for decades all the way back to Ireland's civil war. 

Now Sinn Féin is mixing the cards anew, with a more radical agenda and more votes than any of the two parties. But Mary Lou McDonald lacks the numbers to form a government. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could get the numbers together with the Greens and some independents.

But old habits die hard. Ireland could also face a prolonged gridlock before a government emerges or new elections are called.

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.


Recent News

  • January 15, 2020
  • Philippe's not-so-generous compromise offer
  • What is Erdogan up to in Libya?
  • When it is noise and not a signal
  • September 11, 2019
  • What are the chances of a deal?
  • May 09, 2019
  • The EU's impossible dilemma
  • The horsetrading starts in Sibiu
  • May to bring withdrawal bill to Commons week after next
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • August 24, 2018
  • Towards a standoff between Italy and the EU
  • A short note on the diminishing role of economists in political life
  • April 23, 2018
  • More bad news for the SPD
  • Will Theresa May accept a customs union? The Times says yes. We think so too.
  • A comeback for Marine Le Pen?
  • December 20, 2017
  • Down with the gown
  • How to overcome the political gridlock in Italy
  • Varoufakis is suing the ECB
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 12, 2017
  • Macro in a state of denial
  • Where Schulz is vulnerable
  • Schäuble’s three party tricks
  • December 15, 2016
  • Scared of its own electorate
  • Towards a transitional deal
  • The comeback of Gerhard Schröder as the SPD's powerbroker
  • August 19, 2016
  • Brexit realities slowly dawning on the City
  • Opening shot for Hollande's campaign
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 27, 2020
  • Germany is one of the most unequal countries in Europe
  • July 08, 2020
  • Maybe they are not negotiating after all?
  • Macron's 600 day government of battle
  • June 22, 2020
  • What we learned from Trump in Tulsa
  • Greece seeks EEZ deal with Egypt to counter Turkey
  • Political pressure on French judiciary in Fillon probe?
  • June 08, 2020
  • Brexit talks at an impasse
  • Trump's troop reduction in Germany - another way to divide the EU?
  • May 26, 2020
  • French fashion stores - lockdown is one crisis too many
  • An important German supreme court ruling against VW
  • Public scrutiny over lockdown rules
  • May 10, 2020
  • On court rulings and folk economics
  • EU regions - some far better on Covid-19 but not on downturn
  • April 27, 2020
  • The EU’s trickery of a fake MFF
  • Philippe to put down cards as trust evaporates
  • April 17, 2020
  • Should leaders cash in on their approval ratings and seek early elections?
  • Downing Street doubles down on Brexit deadline
  • April 08, 2020
  • Is Greece ready for virus spread in migrant camps?
  • On the future of the EU - the final part 12 of our series
  • March 31, 2020
  • Orbán's power grab
  • Why we would like to share the optimism on eurobonds, but can’t.
  • March 23, 2020
  • Orbán seeks to extend his powers
  • UK as the double counterfactual
  • March 16, 2020
  • Why many of the Covid-19 statistics are misleading
  • March 09, 2020
  • Lockdown measures are not working
  • Will the ceasefire hold in Idlib?
  • March 05, 2020
  • EU keen to avoid a repeat of 2015 migrant crisis
  • Sir Humphrey R.I.P.
  • March 02, 2020
  • What the return of the refugee crisis tells us about the EU
  • Does the UK really want a deal? Does France?
  • February 28, 2020
  • The EU's sheer complacency is unbelievable
  • A game of blind man’s bluff, to be played for three months
  • February 27, 2020
  • German polls point to red-red-green
  • Greece's struggle to improve migrants crisis