No last goodbye
Conspiracy theory meets Merkel
No one was truly surprised when German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she wouldn’t run again for the chairmanship of her party. Speculations about her possible exit started right after the disastrous federal election results were declared last September. Columnists and opinion leaders have also discussed profoundly whether Europe can survive without her or not, as well as whether she will manage to secure a dignified leave or not.
But these topics are slightly too mainstream. I want to address a much more entertaining issue, strongly grounded in the field of conspiracy theories: what if Merkel upgrades to European politics?
The first hints revealing her secret plan came to light after she openly endorsed Manfred Weber as a Spitzenkandidat for the European People’s party in early September. Well-informed or pretending-to-be-well-informed sources from the Bundestag and their similarly well-informed acquaintances in Brussels explained that in fact the great strategist Chancellor hadn’t endorsed him officially; she had just called some people on the phone who later said she had indeed approved the head of the EPP group. Merkel only meant to please Bavarian voters ahead of state elections without any real intention to actually nominate a politician without significant experience in domestic politics to be the leader of the European Commission.
She has an obviously better candidate for that position in mind. Herself. Or at least, this is what is being said.
If you are wondering what she will do next week at the EPP conference meant to choose between Weber and his challenger Alexander Stubb, then first read my colleague brilliant piece on this issue and listen to a bunch of possibly-well-informed but certainly-creative-minded theorists. Merkel will of course vote Weber. He will quite probably lead the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat campaign. Or, if by any chance, Stubb comes first, then he’ll be the top candidate. For Merkel’s plan, it really doesn’t matter.
Because one shouldn’t forget about another important player in European politics whose friendship is so very crucial for Merkel. Yes, you guessed right, it is the French President Emmanuel Macron, who happens to be against the entire Spitzenkandidat procedure. Despite all the whispers about her immediate leave, Merkel will stick to the chancellorship until next April. But after the elections, she and Macron will realise their gorgeous vision about reforming Europe. She will admit that she needed to find a common ground with her French counterpart about not bending over backwards to the European Parliament’s will on the lead candidate. But in order to ensure smooth implementation of their grand plans, she will make another sacrifice. She will be the next president of the European Commission… and maybe the European Council as well, realising the long-awaited merger of the top positions.
But perhaps it is time to stop the flow of conspiracy now. Merkel might just return gardening and cooking marmalade once she is able to finally get rid of the burdens of so many years of governing. Who knows.