Merkel Offers Peek Into Enigma of Who Might Succeed Her

(Bloomberg) -- Angela Merkel offered a rare glimpse into her thinking about her successor.

While the German chancellor gave no sign that she plans to exit soon, Merkel signaled she may not be able to choreograph the succession on her own terms. She also named names.

“All attempts by those in power to choose their successors have always completely failed -- and that’s a good thing,” Merkel said Tuesday in a radio interview with Hessische Rundfunk.

The German leader was queried about her plan to be re-elected as Christian Democratic Union leader at a party convention in December. After a revolt by CDU lawmakers four weeks ago, an electoral setback for her Bavarian allies this month and a difficult state ballot in the state of Hesse on Sunday, there’s increasing speculation that the end of Merkel’s 13-year tenure is looming.

She listed possible CDU contenders to determine the party’s future, including Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, her hand-picked party general secretary who’s often cited as her most likely successor. She also cited Ralph Brinkhaus, who shocked many in the party in September by ousting Merkel loyalist Volker Kauder as parliamentary caucus leader.

“Those who contribute something extraordinary have the opportunity to show what they’ve got,” Merkel said.

The other mentions were her cabinet appointments, which include Health Minister Jens Spahn, a rival, and four CDU state premiers, among them Daniel Guenther, who has gained traction as head of the state of Schleswig-Holstein.

“We have a great offering,” Merkel said. “So I’m not concerned at all about that and otherwise I enjoy doing my work.”

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