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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a press conference in Warsaw on September 11th, 2021. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

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By Andreas Rinke

BERLIN (Reuters) – After 16 years in power, Chancellor Angela Merkel is not seeking re-election in Germany’s Sept. 26 election but she is anything but a lame duck.

Merkel won’t be leaving office anytime soon because of the possibility of prolonged coalition talks. Officials say she intends to make use her free time to continue foreign policy initiatives.

Merkel, according to the German constitution will continue as chancellor till a majority vote of Bundestag legislators elects a successor who is then sworn into office. Merkel’s powers are not restricted in any way, but she is an agreement seeker. Prior chancellors did not take radical decisions while the window was open.

She is also interested in the European Union climate talks and Ukraine.

A leading Berlin conservative said that she will need to take a key role in negotiations regarding the EU’s climate protection plan.

Both Armin Laschet (Merkel’s likely conservative successor) and Robert Habeck, Greens coleader, expect that coalition negotiations will continue for the remainder of the year. They continued to work until March 2017, after the September 24, 2017 elections.

Because of the fractured vote, coalition formation may be harder this time. Merkel might easily beat Helmut Kohl to become the longest-serving postwar chancellor. This record was set by her on Dec. 17.

    Merkel would have the opportunity to facilitate a fresh round of talks under the ‘Normandy format with Russia, Ukraine, and France to try to end the conflict in Ukraine. This is something she advocated during her trip to Kyiv last year.

She stated that she was open to the idea of holding another meeting at political leadership with herself, the French president, and the Russian and Ukrainian presidents. This could take place after September 26.

One individual is particularly concerned about her role in the future: Emmanuel Macron, French president.

French diplomats fear that talks over coalition may drag out until the second half next year. Macron will be looking for a German partner in order to promote his European agenda both during France’s rotating EU presidency as well as when he is facing French presidential election.

Claire Demesmay from the DGaP German Council on Foreign Relations, said: “In such a case it would even be better for Macron if Merkel remained at office until April 2022.”

TURBULENT CLIMATE

Merkel and Macron’s governments have been scoping out what they can agree during the French EU presidency, and a productive tenure would boost Macron’s re-election chances, Demesmay said.

    He would suffer if there was a new coalition at the beginning 2022. The German partner would then not be available for negotiations.

Merkel has already indicated she will have a role https://reut.rs/3iDbNT7 to play beyond September in the EU’s climate protection plans, entitled “Fit for 55”.

    She stated in July that tough negotiations could be initiated while the new German government was being created and she was acting as chancellor.

Her goal is to not just defend German interests.

Merkel was named the “climate chieftain” for advocating climate change with Group of Eight leaders in 2007. She also pushed for renewable energy adoption in Germany. Merkel is keen for the EU to take action on climate protection faster.

    Unnamed EU diplomat said that Merkel could be present in talks even though the “Fit for 55” negotiations will end next year.

    “The question is: without Merkel in the room, are we going to be able to solve them (the negotiations on climate policies)? “I think it’s possible, but it will be much more difficult,” she said.



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