Merkel successor Armin Laschet on collision course with Biden over China handling

Germany: Insider addresses how Laschet and Biden will get on

Armin Laschet was elected leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats party (CDU) last Saturday, beating Friedrich Merz by 521 votes to 466. Mr Laschet is a strong supporter of Angela Merkel and said a change of party direction would “send exactly the wrong signal” indicating he would continue some of Mrs Merkel’s policies. These include incorporating Chinese technology company Huawei into their 5G network and helping build the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, moves that may spark conflict with President-elect Joe Biden.

When asked what does this leader choice mean for the CDU, Bloomberg news reporter Agatha Cantrill said: “Just by becoming the CDU leader doesn’t necessarily mean he will be the chancellor candidate in September. 

“However, it does show how the party is planning to go which is in the vein of continuing Merkel’s legacy by picking one of her strong loyalists as their new leader.”

Chancellor Merkel is the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union but said she would not stand for a fifth term in 2021.  

Ms Cantrill continued: “They’re basically saying they want to keep on in the Merkel track, which has obviously been doing well for them and for her legacy for the last 15 years but this means that he is gonna be a very centrist and very pro-European candidate.

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“He’s a big fan of Emmanuel Macron but it’s less clear how he will be received by the new Biden administration because he also supports some of Merkel’s policies such as being supportive of Huawei’s integration into the 5G network and the Nord 2 Pipeline which have been obviously both been criticised in Washington.”

The US administration has been opposed to Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks across the world because of serious security concerns.

The UK is planning on banning new Huawei 5G equipment in September.

European countries have also been threatened with sanctions from America if they help build the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. 

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Ms Cantrill was then asked what this move means for the other political parties in Germany. 

She responded: “They (CDU) have picked a centrist and have picked someone who follows Merkel’s old track.  

“Merkel has been a very successful chancellor for the past 15 years on the basis she pulls in a lot of votes that would usually have possibly gone to slightly more left-wing parties.”

However, in the German 2017 election Merkel and the CDU lost 65 seats from their previous 311 as voters turned to fringe parties. 

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Ms Cantrill continued: “By picking a centrist candidate they’ve undercut the argument of the Greens and Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) that they are distinct from them.”

The next German election will be held September 26 with Conservative Olaf Scholz leading Germany’s second-largest party, the SPD.

Chancellor Merkel announced in 2017 she would not stand again after nearly 16 years in power.

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