Germany, Europe have yet to realise Merkel will be gone next year: minister

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, November 11, 2020. Markus Schreiber/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Health Minister Jens Spahn, an influential powerbroker in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, warned his colleagues to remember that they were picking a potential Chancellor as they prepare to select a new party leader.

Spahn, who is backing North Rhine-Westphalia’s premier Armin Laschet to lead the party, said that Germany and Europe had grown so used to Merkel during her 16 years leading the European Union’s most populous country that they had not really begun to reflect on what a successor should look like.

“Germans and perhaps Europeans have not really realised that our Chancellor will be gone in one year,” he told a briefing held by an Irish think-tank. “That will be a real shift, a real change, a new decade actually.”

Merkel has said that this, her fourth term as German Chancellor, will be her last. Whoever succeeds her as party leader will be in poll position to lead Germany after next year’s parliamentary election.

“Whether in May or in September when the election will take place, people will realise she will go and then they will look at who might be next and then they will scrutinise those candidates,” he added.

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