According to reports from the German DPA news agency, Friedrich Merz, former leader of the CDU/CSU group in the Bundestag, will again run for the post of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader, after losing by a small margin in 2018 election to the Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) recently announced that she would not run for the post of chancellor in 2021, to the reported displeasure of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The current CDU head also opined that only a person who would run for the top government post should lead the CDU, giving Merz a second chance to win the seat. Here is what we know about one of the likely candidates for the CDU chief's office:
- Merz spent five years as a member of the European Parliament in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, afterwards being elected to the German Bundestag, where he became a leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in 2000.
- He lost the post to Angela Merkel in 2002, after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, led by CDU chairman Edmund Stoiber.
- While Merz considers himself conservative in terms of a social agenda, he holds pro-business positions in economics. He reportedly made a large amount of money as corporate lawyer after leaving politics in 2009, and currently holds seats on the boards of several for-profit multinational corporations.
- Merz ran against AKK and Minister of Health Jens Spahn in the 2018 CDU leadership election, with the support of veteran politician and current president of Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble. Merz gained a little over 48 percent of the vote but lost to AKK by 3 percent.
- Some members of the German media claim that Merz is a member of a so-called Andean Pact – an alleged interest group of conservative male CDU members seeking to reach top tiers of the government by joint effort. The Spiegel newspaper reported that the alleged group's current goal is to unseat Merkel. Several members of the Pact hold minister-president posts in such prominent lands as Hesse and Lower Saxony, although there is no solid evidence proving that such a group actually exists.
- Merz received an unpaid advisory position in the North Rhine-Westphalia land government, as Commissioner for Brexit and Transatlantic Relations in 2017.