Germany’s chancellors-in-waiting – POLITICO

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BERLIN — Germany’s main political parties have held their coronations but only one will take Angela Merkel’s crown.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz was the latest to get his party’s seal of approval as its candidate for chancellor at an online conference at the weekend.

The move was a formality, but it confirmed the menu of three potential chancellors that Germans will face when they vote in September’s general election. The trio is due to face off in a public television debate a couple of weeks before election day, broadcasters announced on Wednesday.

Here are the essentials on the trio vying to succeed Merkel, the veteran Christian Democrat who is stepping down after 16 years in power.

Annalena Baerbock

Age: 40 

Party: Greens

Current job: Co-leader of the Greens  

Background: After studying in Hamburg and London, where she earned a degree in international law, Baerbock worked for an MEP in Brussels before returning to Germany and winning election to the Bundestag.   

Fun fact: As a youth, Baerbock was a competitive trampoline gymnast (a fact that has triggered endless political metaphors in the German press). 

Bottom line: Baerbock’s candidacy has brought new energy to the campaign and rallied the Green base. Still, it’s far from certain Germans are ready to put their future in the hands of someone who, despite a record of jumping into the unknown and landing on her feet, has never held executive office.

Armin Laschet

Age: 60

Party: Christian Democratic Union (CDU)

Current job: Premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia 

Background: The son of a coalminer, Laschet grew up in a working-class Catholic family and won a university scholarship from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (a foundation close to the CDU). He has spent most of his career in politics, including a stint as an MEP.

Fun fact: He once edited a Catholic newspaper. 

Bottom line: Laschet’s main advantage — that he represents the status quo — might also be what will cost him the election. After 16 years of “Merkeling,” many Germans are ready for change. 

Olaf Scholz

Age: 62

Party: Social Democrats (SPD)

Current job: German finance minister, vice chancellor

Background: A former mayor of Hamburg and labor lawyer, Scholz is a moderate career politician who has had a front seat for his party’s gradual decline. Though he can come across as a bit boring, Germans trust him and his approval ratings are solid. 

Fun fact: As a young socialist in the 1980s, Scholz was a staunch anti-capitalist who dismissed NATO as “imperialist.” 

Bottom line: Even if Scholz has the experience, intellect and confidence to handle the top job, his Social Democrats are polling at just 15 percent, so his chances of becoming chancellor are slim. 





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