Will Angela Merkel still rule Germany after its elections?
After the weekend's voting in Germany, the two most important parties in this country aspire to form a government without it being clear who will replace the current chancellor.
After last Sunday's Election Day in Germany, everything seems to indicate that outgoing Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democratic Party, could be the winner by obtaining 25.7% of the vote, followed by Armin Laschet of the Christian-Democratic Union, the conservative alliance that is also Merkel's party, with 24.1%.
But far from defining the political landscape in Germany, the power games to define Merkel's successor, and ratify the governing coalition that will take the reins of the country are just beginning.
At the moment, the current chancellor does not know the date she will step down, and even has the possibility of surpassing the record of most days in office held by Helmut Kohl (5,869) if she were to remain past than Dec. 17, 2021.
Until she is notified of her official departure, Merkel will have to continue at the helm, which will take her to Rome at the end of October to attend the G20 summit.
Only after the German president proposes a candidate, and he or she will be chosen by the deputies in secret and without prior debate. The German official with the most authority proposes the person he thinks has the best chance of being elected to the position by the deputies in a process that can take up to three voting days.
The newly-elected German parliament must meet no later than 30 days after the election results are made official. From that moment on, a period of negotiations begins where leaders define political objectives, assigning ministries and establish what is called a coalition agreement.
Negotiations to install the coalition are coordinated by the representative of the party with the highest vote, generally an official who is also a candidate for chancellor, who can choose the other parties they will work with during the new government.
In Germany, unlike the United States and its two-party system, a majority in Parliament must be guaranteed for the election of a new chancellor and government.
These negotiations to form the governing coalition can go on for long periods of time. For example, during the elections four years ago, with the appearance of the “Jamaica” coalition for the first time, subsequent discussions generated from parties such as the Liberal Democrat and The Green Party took almost six months.
If by the time her successor is decided, Merkel wants to take some detail with her to remember her extensive and successful tenure in office, it is important to remember that due to the well-known "Ministerial Law" she cannot do so. Each of the gifts received were directed to the Foreign Ministry, and are all part of an inventory and property of the State, including her desk, the desk chair and all the works of art in her current office.