Macron sees fights with UK as ‘good politics’ says Anand Menon

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Today, Germans will vote for the country’s twentieth parliament in the post-war era. Angela Merkel, who has helped determine the course of European and global politics in her 16 years as chancellor, will be standing down. The official candidates to replace her are the CDU’s Armin Laschet, the SPD’s Olaf Scholz and the Green’s Ms Baerbock. 

All three parties have taken the lead in opinion polls at various points, but crucially none of the candidates are forecast to win more than 25-27 percent of the vote according to Politico. 

If the polling is reflected in the final vote the winning party on the night will not automatically field a chancellor but have to build a coalition government to establish a majority. 

Likely to be part of any coalition agreement is Ms Baerbock, yet French president Mr Macron snubbed the party leader two weeks ago. 

Mr Macron hosted Mr Scholz two days before meeting Ms Merkel’s anointed successor Mr Laschet.

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German paper the Die Weld daily said: “The visits to Paris give the German electoral campaign an unusually European dimension. 

“The fact that Scholz was the first to be received by Macron may only be by chance even if the readers of political tea leaves may see it as a secret sign of preference.”

Mr Macron is likely to be the most powerful politician in the EU after Ms Merkel’s departure, and will be eager to establish good relations with the future chancellor as Paris takes on the EU presidency in 2022. 

Franco-German relations specialist at the Sorbonne university Helene Miard-Lacroix told France 24 said: “Macron wants to sound out the potential winners to see what room he has for manoeuvre to set out the French programme for the EU presidency.”

Such meetings usually send clear signals ‒ in the build up to France’s 2017 election Ms Merkel met with Francois Fillon and Mr Macron but not with far-right leader Marine Le Pen. 

Der Tagesspiegel added: “Olaf Scholz and Armin Laschet are both aware that a trip to France ‒ Germany’s most important partner in the EU ‒ cannot hurt during the election campaign. 

“An appearance alongside French President Emmanuel Macron can show you are fit to be chancellor.”

The Green party’s absence from any meetings was striking, after Mr Scholz, who is comfortably leading the popular vote told Tagesspiegel in early September: “I would like to govern with the Greens.”

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He added that both party’s policy proposals have a lot of overlap.

The SPD and the Greens both want to raise the national minimum wage from €9.60 (£8.19) to €12 (£10.24) and want to increase taxes for the super rich.

Both parties also want to shift towards using more renewable energy and are deeply pro-Europe. 

After his talks with Macron, Mr Scholz stressed that France would be Germany’s key partner in strengthening European sovereignty.

He said: “Together with France we must ensure that Europe now treads this path to sovereignty for our future.”

French paper Le Monde added that Mr Scholz signalled to Paris “that he wants to do as chancellor what he was not able to do as vice chancellor.”

Ms Merkel and Macron enjoyed civil relations, though there was occasional tension over Germany’s rigid budget.

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