‘Merkel Successor’ Calls for Germany to Enter Even Tougher Lockdown

A woman protesting against anti-Coronavirus measures confronts a police officer during a protest in Berlin on March 28, 2021, amid a Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)
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The new chairman of Germany’s ruling CDU who may yet replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor has called for the nation to enter an even deeper lockdown, as it battles with low rates of vaccination and coronavirus ‘third wave’.

Armin Laschet, who is the President of German state North Rhine Westphalia and since January the Chairman of the nation’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party argued for what he called a ‘bridge lockdown’ Monday, saying present terms were not harsh enough.

Using the metaphor of a bridge over troubled waters, Laschet fundamentally implied that lockdown needed to go deeper and longer, until enough Germans were vaccinated to make coronavirus less of a threat to German society. This, in many respects, is no small ask — after months of failures at European and national level, Germany is well behind first-world peers like the United Kingdom and United States in vaccination levels.

Deutsche Welle reports Laschet’s comments, when he said: “We need a bridge lockdown. We have to build a bridge to the point in time when a lot of people are vaccinated… We are very close to the goal… For the last meters we need an extra effort and that’s what I’m calling for today.”

Reuters report his proposal includes a potential nighttime curfew, for Germans to come into physical contact with fewer people, and more home working.

Critics within Germany dismissed Laschet’s calls as vague and ill-thought-through.

The comments come as part of a series of such claims, as would-be successors of Chancellor Merkel attempt out outbid one another in coronavirus policy as the party picks its next Chancellor. The answer of who will follow Merkel is expected in the coming weeks.

Markus Soeder, the leader of Bavaria and another contender in the race, slammed Laschet last week for being too soft on lockdown.

This would not be the first time Germany’s political juggernaut, the CDU, has tried to retire Angela Merkel as leader. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer replaced Dr Merkel as party leader in 2018, with a timetable to take on the leadership of the nation by 2021 — this giving Germany time to get used to its new leader in time for this year’s elections, it was said at the time.

Yet Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as ‘AKK’, failed to gain support and traction nationally, and by 2019 it was said that Merkel had ‘unresigned‘. AKK herself later quietly resigned the party leadership, triggering the contest that saw Laschet become the new party leader this year. Yet even this doesn’t guarantee that he will be next chancellor. The CDU is expected to announce who it will put forward for this year’s Federal elections before Whitsun.

Germany is presently experiencing what it calls a ‘third wave‘ of coronavirus. Its vaccination programme has been severely impacted by the decision to participate in the European Union’s vaccinate procurement effort. While early claims asserted this would mean European nations would get jabs faster and cheaper than Brexit Britain, in reality the opposite has proven to be true.

The University of Oxford’s data observatory reports that as of April 2nd, the United Kingdom has given at least one vaccine to 46 per cent of citizens, while Germany has managed nearly 12 per cent.

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