Sputnik discussed this with Manuel Ochsenreiter, director of the German Center for Eurasian Studies and editor-in-chief of the German news magazine ‘ZUERST!'.
Sputnik: What do you make of this move by Angela Merkel and how has this news been taken all over Germany?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: When you look at the reactions, you'll see that during the last years and especially due to the policy of Angela Merkel the German society became a split society. That means that you have a part of the society which is extremely glad and happy, where the slogan ‘Merkel has to go' was like a credo of the last years; and on the other side you have a huge Angela Merkel fan club which is very sad that she will resign.
Sputnik: Now people are probably thinking about who can possibly become the replacement…
They are now struggling to have something between 10-20% of Germans. So, when she goes, she will leave a huge vacuum that she created herself by her way of governing. So, for now we have several names circulating, but all of those names don't seem to be capable to fill the position for now.
Sputnik: What is this vacuum going to mean for the EU?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: What's going to happen with the EU in the future has a lot to do with who will follow Angela Merkel, but she will for sure use the next years. She gave herself at least three-year time to resign, so she will invest a lot of energy in these three years to make sure that the change will not be such a big impact for the course of the EU, precisely meaning that Angela Merkel is totally insisting on more pro-European integration for Europe even against the will of some Eastern European populations.
Angela Merkel is pushing for mass migration for Europe. The role she plays is of course there not outspokenly positive, and she will make sure that whoever follows her will at least in the main points follow her in her position there.
Sputnik: Many tend to feel that since she has already announced that she won't be competing in 2021 that she's basically in a lame duck period although it might be a lengthy one; do you think that this is true?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: By announcing that she will resign in three years, she was putting herself in a very dangerous position because in policy, especially in Germany, there is a rule that in the election the Chancellor always has an advantage towards their competitors.
So, it could now be in the CDU that very loyal people to Angela Merkel might turn against her and they might try to convince her not to wait until 2021 but, for example, to resign at the end of the next year or beginning of 2020 to give the next Chancellor from the CDU at least one year, or maybe even two years, to frame a position.
If this is not taking place, we will have several candidates in 2021, none of whom have been Chancellor before; if she doesn't agree to this, we might have an interesting situation that she might be ousted by her loyal, until now, followers. This is a scenario which is not so unlikely to happen.
Sputnik: What would be worse for Germany — if she is pushed out, or if they have to go through the prospects of Brexit and so forth without Angela Merkel, albeit a lame duck, behind a wheel?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: We are now in a situation in Germany where nothing is moving anymore and it begins with Angela Merkel. Angela Merkel is responsible for putting Germany in that situation; we are today the most hated country in the EU.
We are hated by the Eastern Europeans, we are hated by the Southern Europeans; we are hated by the British right now because we are the guys who put the most pressure on the British in the Brexit negotiations.
So, for Germany a total reboot in the next elections in 2021 is, in my personal opinion, only something positive; it would give us a short minute to take a breath and a short minute to readjust our relations with our foreign neighbors and partners; and also to readjust our society which has also been split by Angela Merkel in a way that hasn't happened in the several decades before.
Due to her open borders policy there's a conflict which is very hard to resolve for her as a Chancellor. Anyone in this position has a chance to solve this but she cannot do this and she is responsible for this.
Sputnik: Merkel actually previously said that in order to lead Germany she must lead her party; do you think that the new CSU leader will, in fact, be a replacement as Chancellor in 2021; or as you said if they don't get into power before 2021 perhaps they will see somebody else?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: The CDU MPs, all these people, are worried about their position. They know that if Angela Merkel goes to 2021 and then comes a new guy or a new woman being candidate for the Chancellor, that might be a negative impact on the electoral result and they might lose their position.
Sputnik: Can you give us at least some of your input on who you think are possible contenders?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: If we look into the Christian Democratic Party and what is happening there, there're several names popping up. There's, of course, the General Secretary of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is more or less presented by Merkel herself; not speaking out she could be the next one. If she is coming, nothing will change for those who are critical towards the EU, or for those who want to readjust our foreign relations in a positive way.
There're also different figures who seem not to be capable or able to fill this position for now. The same with the Greens; the AfD will for sure not have the majority of votes, but we have to say that even there there's not someone we can imagine as a Chancellor.
Sputnik: Calls for the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to step down; I'm wondering if we're likely to see some kind of a reshuffle in the party in order to gain back for voters' support. If so, who could replace Seehofer?
Manuel Ochsenreiter: Seehofer already announced some months ago that he would resign as Minister and he didn't do it. I think that it's very hard to predict what he's doing. He didn't do himself a favor; he didn't do his own party a favor…
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.