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Merkel forever!  Poll reveals German leader could take EU presidency

An inquiry pitting outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel against current French President Emmanuel Macron as head of the European Commission has suggested that many EU countries would support a Merkel presidency.

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) survey asked residents of 12 European Union countries whether they would support Ms Merkel or Mr Macron in a moot race if the two were to compete for the role of ” President of the EU “.

Ms Merkel – who as German Chancellor has already been Europe’s de facto leader for 16 years – won a majority of votes in all countries, including France, and an absolute majority of votes in the Netherlands. Bas, in Spain and Portugal.

Even in France, where Emmanuel Macron is currently president, Merkel beat the French leader by 12%, although almost half said they did not know which candidate to choose or said they would not vote.

In total, 41% said they supported Merkel as head of the European Commission, and only 14% said the same for Macron.

The poll was – probably deliberately – vague on which question respondents in the EU “presidency” were voting on. While the question asked which of the two leaders would be better for a role of ‘President of the EU’, the European Union actually has four Presidents, the leaders of the Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the Council of Ministers. .

That said, the ECFR investigation also asked questions specifically about the President of the European Commission, who is currently the former German Defense Minister and Merkel’s protégé Ursula von der Leyen. This is widely seen as the highest profile of EU presidents – the Commission President attends G7 summits, for example – and perhaps the role that ECFR has indirectly called for.

In June, a similar poll by the Pew Research Center on global leadership found that Merkel has become the most trusted leader to lead the world ahead of US President Joe Biden and President Macron.

According to a report released Tuesday for The temperature newspaper, as Merkel has announced that she will step down as German Chancellor after Germany’s federal elections this month, she is even expected to remain in the role in the New Year due to negotiations for coalition that should be extended.

The question of Merkel’s candidacy for the European presidency is part of ECFR’s larger report “Beyond Merkelism: What Europeans Expect from Post-Election Germany”, which also sees respondents doing proof of confidence in Germany to defend their economic interests and defend democratic values. , but have low confidence in Germany’s ability to manage relations with the United States, China or Russia.

“These results confirm that EU citizens do not necessarily trust Germany to lead the EU in their interests in a world where competition between the great powers is intensifying. When it comes to geopolitics, Berlin’s credibility is limited – especially compared to other policy areas, ”the report notes.

“Europeans seem to regard it as little ‘geopolitical’, suggesting that the diplomatic (and military) efforts of the German government have gone unnoticed or have been ineffective during the foreign policy crises of recent years,” the authors add.

As Merkel leaves the political scene in Germany, German respondents to the ECFR survey appear noticeably negative about their country’s future, with 52% saying the country’s golden age is in the past, up from 34% from all countries surveyed. .

“This big picture suggests that if skepticism about Germany’s prosperity were to become widespread in Europe, Europeans might become less inclined to see Berlin as a pillar of Europeanism,” the report says and adds: “Growing skepticism about the German economy would erode confidence in its ability to run Europe, severely hampering its ability to do so.

As the September 26 elections approach, Merkel’s successor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Armin Laschet, votes far behind Social Democratic leader (SPD) Olaf Scholz who could succeed Merkel as chancellor .

In an interview with CNBC, former SPD chief Martin Schulz said that a Scholz government would not be Merkel’s continuation.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by e-mail to ctomlinson (at)