Merkel Isn’t About to Back Green Leader as Next Woman Chancellor


During one of Angela Merkel’s final appearances in German parliament on Wednesday, an opposition lawmaker tried to lure the chancellor into a trap. But as happened so often during her 16-year reign, she managed to sidestep it.

“Ever since you became chancellor, young girls can imagine themselves as chancellor one day,” Ulle Schauws, of the Green party, told Merkel in the Bundestag. “So don’t you agree with me that it would be best if there continues to be a female chancellor in this country?”

Some lawmakers laughed at the obvious reference to Annalena Baerbock, the Greens’ candidate to succeed Merkel and the main rival of Armin Laschet, her own bloc’s pick for the Sept. 26 election.

Merkel needed a few seconds to respond, but then did so with a smile. “Look, I’m of the opinion that after 16 years of Angela Merkel, citizens are mature enough to decide if they want a male or female chancellor.”

The exchange, while good-humored, also touched on a more serious shortcoming -- namely the underrepresentation of women in German politics. Schauws said the share of female lawmakers in federal parliament decreased under Merkel’s leadership, to 30.7% in the current legislative period from 32.5% in 2005, the year the chancellor took office.

Merkel responded by saying that she’s unhappy about this development, adding that she’ll be “satisfied only when the ratio is 50-50.”

Merkel will not only step down as chancellor, she will also leave parliament. On Thursday, she’s due to give a speech on the upcoming European Union summit, and it could very well be her last in the Bundestag.

“It’s hard to believe,” Merkel said toward the end of the roughly hour-long session of government questioning, which she typically takes three times a year. “When I became chancellor, the iPhone didn’t even exist.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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