Five names emerged as the most plausible candidates for Chancellor, the post that is currently held by the incumbent Christian Wulff, at a reception on Monday night held in his honor by the German political party, the Christian Democratic Union, at the Brandenburg Gate.
The four names that have emerged over the past week – Carsten Schneider, Marcel Lohmann, Ulla Jelpke and Monika Pallenberg – are the most likely candidate for Chancellor. While each of the parties has a broad list of potential possible successors, each party in the grand coalition has two candidates on their own list, giving each party’s potential Chancellor candidate broad support across the political spectrum.
The different parties have also assigned more than 50 MPs and several high-ranking party chiefs to each candidate’s camp – there is no candidate without a champion in a party – which may well decide which candidate ultimately becomes the chosen one. The grand coalition parties, representing the biggest blocs in the Bundestag, all nominated the same candidate, so their candidates must appeal to every part of the electorate.
Given the uncertainty over the election results, and the need to form a coalition government in which all parties would take an equal role, the only certainty at this point is that the German election in September won’t produce an outright majority. A series of smaller parties or coalitions are likely to be formed, possibly beginning with a minority or a coalition of smaller parties led by the Green Party.
Most mainstream parties seem intent on playing for positions within that coalition, most particularly the Social Democrats. Perhaps paradoxically, if they don’t take the reins of government they risk seeing their left flank shifted by a further leftward lurch by the coming head of government, possibly in the form of the Left Party. This would give the more centrist Greens a chance to increase their support, thus strengthening them as a coalition partner.
The foreign and economic ministers – Sigmar Gabriel, from the Social Democrats, and Sigmar Gabriel, from the CDU – have been mentioned as the chief candidates for President of the Federal Republic, for their political skill and status as a leader in the Grand Coalition. In the event that the Chancellor candidate doesn’t go beyond the grand coalition, his or her Deputy Chancellor and Foreign Minister could be proposed. These names are Timothy Ryan, from the CDU, and Gerhard Schröder, from the Social Democrats.
If there is no outcome of the election in September and the left wing of the grand coalition wins again, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder could be considered for President of the Federal Republic. On the other hand, since the CDU was outpolled by the Left Party in the recent European election, it is likely that the party will want someone who appeals to the right wing of the party. That role could go to Volker Kauder, head of the CDU faction in the Bundestag, or to Hermann Groehe, head of the parliament’s shadow cabinet and member of the CDU.
There has been speculation that Wolfgang Schäuble, the Finance Minister, could run for President, though he said recently that he had no interest in becoming the next Federal President.
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