Victory for Germany’s ‘mini-Merkel’ will push more countries to quit EU, warns ex-MEP

Germany: Laschet faces ‘battle’ to be chancellor says expert

Armin Laschet edged out Friedrich Merz in the second round of voting today to take the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), with health minister Norbert Roettgen have been knocked out after the first ballot. While he is not guaranteed to become Chancellor – Markus Soeder, leader of long-time allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) is seen by many as Mrs Merkel’s natural heir – Mr Laschet is in the driving seat, given the CDU is the senior partner.

Hans-Olaf Henkel, a German former MEP who stepped down last year, had backed the significantly more eurosceptic Mr Merz for the job – and believes Mr Laschet’s victory will pave the wave for more federalism and consequently more resentment throughout the bloc.

He told “With Laschet’s victory Chancellor Merkel has won her last battle. Not only were Roettgen and Merz arch enemies of her, Laschet will ensure that an honest and overdue discussion about Merkel’s big mistakes will not take place.

“Mistake number one: a hasty and costly departure from nuclear energy after Fukushima resulting in Germany having by far the highest energy cost of all industrialised nations in the world.

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“Mistake number two: destroying the main principles of the Maastricht treaty by bailing out Greece in the first euro crisis 2010 resulting in a series of other bailouts, turning the Eurozone from a stability zone to a transfer zone primarily at Germany’s expense.

“Mistake number three: opening the German border and letting hundreds of thousands immigrants – mostly young uneducated men – into Germany without knowing who they were, where they we coming from and what to do with them.

“Mistake number four, and her biggest mistake: Merkel caused Brexit by letting Brussels become more and more powerful, bureaucratic and centralised giving Nigel Farage a platform in Brussels and Strasburg which in turn forced David Cameron to risk the referendum.”

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Laschet will continue Merkel’s course of action and has said so

Hans-Olaf Henkel

Mr Henkel, a former member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party who quit after it moved sharply to the right, explained: “Merkel refused three times to give Britain some more freedom regarding free movement and immigration.

“Cameron lost the vote by a very thin margin because Farage and Johnson could eloquently point to the chaotic refugee crisis caused by Merkel herself.

“Laschet will continue Merkel’s course of action and has said so.”

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“Whether Kohl, Schroeder, Merkel or Laschet: without Britain, France has no real opposition anymore for her desire to form the EU like France: centralised, bureaucratic and state interventionistic.”

Mr Laschet, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, widely seen as the Merkel continuity candidate, beat arch-conservative Friedrich Merz in a ballot of CDU party delegates by 521 votes to 466 in the second ballot of the 1,001 delegates.

Mrs Merkel, who has been Germany’s Chancellor since 2005, has said she will not run for chancellor again in September’s federal election.

Since she stepped down as CDU leader in December 2018, her party has struggled to find a suitable successor.

The narrow margin of his victory underlines the challenge that Mr Laschet faces in uniting a conservative bloc that, despite her four successive federal election victories, has never been entirely comfortable with Merkel’s centrist course.

In his victory speech, Mr Laschet urged democratic forces to rally against extremism.

In his victory speech, Mr Laschet urged democratic forces to rally against extremism.

He said: “Especially in these days that we are experiencing in the world, the phrase ‘unity, justice and freedom’ is more topical than ever.

“Let us fight together for these principles against all those who want to endanger them.”

However, factions within the CDU accuse Mrs Merkel her of having left a vacuum on the party’s right for the AfD to step into, undermining Germany’s democratic order – and these critics will suggest Mr Laschet will do little to address the problem.

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