Angela Merkel is on her way out. Meet her potential replacements

Angela Merkel is on her way out. Meet her potential replacements

After a decade and a half in power, Angela Merkel is on her way out as Germany’s chancellor. But who will follow, and when?

Merkel’s tenure has largely been defined by her calm, cautious nature—characteristics that have made Germany an oasis of stability in a Europe that is undergoing an identity crisis. Those same traits have also opened her up to accusations of indecisiveness and lack of ambition on the part of the continent’s most powerful nation.

So, it is time for both Merkel and Germany to move on. Federal elections are planned for 2021; she decided in 2018 that she would step down at that point. She resigned as leader of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, which narrowly chose as her successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, known popularly as AKK or, somewhat ungenerously, “Mini-Merkel.”

But now AKK won’t be the CDU’s candidate next year either. Following a year of stumbles, she was finally undone this month by a political firestorm in which the CDU in the state of Thuringia entered a tacit alliance with the increasingly prominent, far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. AKK tried to get the state’s CDU party to change its mind but was rebuffed, and Merkel was forced to remotely enforce party discipline during a state visit to South Africa. Her authority in tatters, AKK quit.

Here’s a rundown of the likely candidates for Merkel’s (and now AKK’s) successor as the face of German conservatism—and quite possibly the next chancellor of Germany.

The centrist: Armin Laschet

Like all four of the top names in the frame for CDU leadership, Armin Laschet (59) hails from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. Following a spell in journalism, he served as a member of Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag, then went on to become a member of the European Parliament. For the last few years, he has been head of the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament.

Like AKK, Laschet represents broad continuity from the Merkel era—if anything, he is slightly to the left of the chancellor, who is already more liberal than most in her party.

When Merkel’s government was losing patience with Athens during the Greek debt crisis, Laschet’s was a prominent voice warning against forcing Greece out of the European Union. He was also a strong supporter of Merkel when, in 2015, she made the momentous decision to open Germany’s borders to a million Syrian refugees—a morally-driven move that, though it never caused the chaos that some predicted, fueled the AfD’s march from a fringe anti-euro party to an anti-immigrant juggernaut.

Laschet is pro-immigration. In fact, he wrote a book arguing that it was necessary to counteract a growing shortage of skilled workers in Germany. He is also seen as friendly with the Greens, who are currently polling second after the CDU and could well be part of the next government. If Laschet wins, the CDU might stop losing centrist voters to the Greens.

Laschet is however conscious of the fact that people want change after the Merkel era. “I understand that this chancellorship was influenced by crises, but it would be nice if we entered a new era in which Germany sets its own impulses,” he said in late 2018. And this week he surprised some observers by criticizing Merkel for dragging her heels on the issue of EU reform. Laschet wants Germany to assume more financial responsibility in Europe than the Merkel administration has been willing to countenance.

The nemesis: Friedrich Merz

Merkel didn’t become chancellor by accident. Her ascent involved power struggles, and the most prominent casualty in those tussles was Friedrich Merz. Like Laschet, Merz (64) served in both the European Parliament and the Bundestag. But, several years after Merkel dashed his dreams of taking over the CDU, he quit politics for the life of a corporate lawyer.

Merz is the anti-Merkel: blunt where she is hard-to-read, and confrontational where she aims for consensus. She is famed for her modest lifestyle, while he—a multi-millionaire thanks to his role as chairman of BlackRock’s German asset-management unit and work for U.S. law firm Mayer Brown—owns not one, but two private jets. Germans are not generally keen on conspicuous wealth, which was one reason Merz lost out (by a small margin) to AKK in the last race for CDU leadership.

A fiscal conservative, Merz has proposed giving half of Germany’s $53 billion reserves back to its people in the form of tax cuts, and has advocated for massive simplification of Germany’s labyrinthine tax system.

On immigration, Merz is very much to the right of Merkel and Laschet. He was a vocal critic of Merkel’s refugee decision, and outraged liberals and the left by saying in 2000 that anyone coming to Germany should conform to its culture.

In a Trump-esque flourish, he this week decided to make an enemy of the German press by saying politicians do not need journalists anymore, thanks to social media. Merz is also very socially conservative. He has made what were perceived as chauvinistic jokes, and in 1997 he voted against the criminalization of marital rape. In 2001, when asked for his opinion on Berlin having a gay mayor (Klaus Wowereit), Merz replied: “As long as he doesn’t approach me, I don’t care.”

Merz has made some attempt to win over more than his party’s right wing—he recently described Merkel as “a kind of role model.” Nonetheless, a Merz victory would be seen as an attempt by the CDU to win back voters who have defected to the AfD. “Friedrich Merz is someone who speaks plainly,” said the prominent actor and director Til Schweiger this week. “If anyone can come to grips with the rise of the AfD, it’s him.”

The rising star: Jens Spahn

At 39, Jens Spahn is by far the youngest potential leader of the CDU. As such, he would represent generational change—but his direction would be unclear.

When he last took a shot at the top spot in 2018, Spahn was seen very much as a candidate of the right. Like Merz, he has deployed the loaded phrase “Leitkultur” (a reference to the “leading” German culture) and was critical of the refugee influx of 2015, saying the following year that it “cannot be allowed to be repeated.”

But recent years have seen a significant softening of Spahn’s image. As Germany’s health minister, he has become a popular figure with a reputation for competence. Conscious of the Greens appealing to the CDU’s “bourgeois flank,” Spahn has warned against the CDU shifting further to the right. And in an opinion piece for the U.K.’s left-leaning Guardian last year, he proposed what he called a “weltoffener patriotismus.”

Weltoffen is tricky to translate into English,” he wrote. “It roughly means being open-minded towards the world, open to new ideas and cultures. Weltoffener patriotismus does not make divisions based on ethnicity, but defines clear premises based on which everybody can join.”

Given his age, Spahn might be tempted to wait until the next battle for CDU leadership before trying his luck again—like Merz and Laschet, he is yet to formally announce his candidacy in this round.

The surprise: Norbert Röttgen

In fact, at the time of writing only one person has thrown his hat in the ring, and it’s not a name that commentators were expecting before his Tuesday announcement.

Chair of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Röttgen (54) used to be Merkel’s environment minister until she abruptly fired him in 2012. It was Röttgen who, in the wake of the Fukishima disaster, announced the government’s intention to shutter all of Germany’s nuclear power plants by 2022.

Like Merz, Röttgen is a strong Atlanticist, serving on the board of the Atlantic Bridge organization that seeks to promote strong U.S.-German ties. He is also keen on beefing up Germany’s often-timid foreign policy, in particular advocating a tougher stance on Russia—Röttgen is no fan of the contentious Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Röttgen has also opposed the CDU party line on the issue of Huawei’s participation in Germany’s 5G networks, siding more (to no avail) with the U.S.’s hawkish position that the Chinese company cannot be trusted.

The wildcard: Markus Söder

One more name is worth briefly mentioning: Markus Söder, the head of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Söder (53) is obviously not going to be the next CDU leader. However, there is an outside chance that he could become the next conservative candidate for chancellor. At the federal level, the two parties operate under the joint banner of The Union. There hasn’t been a CSU candidate for chancellor since Edmund Stoiber in 2002, but it could theoretically happen again.

Söder’s main contribution to the current CDU leadership contest has been to order his party to stay out of it. However, he does want the CSU to influence The Union’s selection of its next candidate for chancellor.

His suggestion that the two roles are separable is at odds with the consensus in the CDU—AKK blamed her own woes on the fact that she only had half of Merkel’s authority, being party leader but not chancellor. But in making that suggestion, Söder also may have thrown Merkel a lifeline.

Merkel is only supposed to step down in 2021, ahead of the federal elections, but AKK’s experience has amplified the voices calling for her to go sooner rather than later—a development that would mean elections this year instead of next. Either way, the CDU’s selection of a polarizing figure such as Merz would probably lead to the collapse of The Union’s coalition with the center-left Social Democrats, again triggering imminent elections.

So this is set to be either a tumultuous year for Germany, ushering in a new coalition, or a year of policy paralysis under Merkel’s lame-duck stewardship. Whatever happens, it should be a characteristically lively period in German politics.

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—Can you catch it twice? Answers to 5 pressing coronavirus questions
—These are the Democratic candidates who qualify for the next debate so far
—John Legere will be remembered as one of the greatest turnaround stories of all time
—Bernard Arnault was briefly the world’s richest man. Then coronavirus struck
—WATCH: Why CEOs are pessimistic about 2020 business outlook

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Best Free Money-Making Applications

Well, with the upgrade in technology everything has changed over the years with the applications being invented in play store that can be used from banking to handling the bills through the smartphone. Whereas making the app for the mobile phone is very difficult because it requires a lot of techniques and programs to invent an application and extract the money through it. So, you can earn the money by registering yourself in the application. Also, you can earn real money by completing the tasks that are given in the application business and even get to know more about how to earn money apps. Below are the best free money-making applications.

Money App

Image result for Money App

The money application is a market research application where you can earn your rewards by completing tasks that include offering opinions, playing games, checking store displays, mystery shopping, testing services and even participating in free trials.  The advantage of this application is that you can get paid within two to three working days of redeeming rewards.


The iPoll application is a customized market research application that allows you to earn money by taking market surveys, writing down diaries and even completing missions around retail. While registering there will ask for some basic information such as your preferences and consumer habits for determining your missions. Even you will receive new missions that are available based on your preferences and location.


Image result for Swagbucks

You can make money as soon as you sign up for Swagbucks with a $10 sign-up bonus. This market research application will allow you to create points by taking surveys, shopping online or playing games and things you can do as you wait in line or have some downtime on your commute. Even you can also earn points by watching videos and Swagbucks can be the ideal application on how to earn money apps.


Slidejoy will pay its users for their lock screens and once the application is installed on the phone then you can start seeing various ads featuring news or advertisers on the lock screen.  You can swipe left to learn more, swipe up for additional ads or swipe right for the home screen. So, you can get more money by depending upon how many times you unlock the phone.

The above applications are the ideal ones to make money when you thinking about how to earn money apps. Hope that I have covered all the topics in my article about the best free money-making applications. Thanks for reading!

Republican candidate Joe Walsh drops out of 2020 presidential race

Republican candidate Joe Walsh drops out of 2020 presidential race

Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh ended his Republican primary challenge to President Donald Trump on Friday, abandoning an effort that faced long odds and financial struggles from the start.

“I’m suspending my campaign, but our fight against the Cult of Trump is just getting started. I’m committed to doing everything I can to defeat Trump and his enablers this November.” Walsh said in a tweet.

Walsh had cast his ballot for Trump in 2016 and declared he would be “grabbing his musket” if the Republican Trump lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton. But Walsh eventually soured on Trump, deriding him as “nuts,” “cruel” and “incompetent.” He has also acknowledged that he helped “create” Trump through his own brand of “personal, ugly politics.”

The tea party favorite turned radio talk show host became Trump’s second 2020 primary challenger when he announced his candidacy in August, saying the incumbent was unfit for office and must be denied a second term. He presented himself as a conservative choice for people who were fed up with the chaos of the Trump era. Brimming with confidence over his campaign prospects, Walsh declared, “I think this thing … will catch on like wildfire.”

But Walsh faced fundraising hurdles and obstacles from the Republican Party from the start. A number of state parties canceled their primaries and other nominating contests in an effort to protect Trump from the fate of George H.W. Bush, the last one-term president who faced a serious primary challenger and subsequently lost his reelection bid. Last year, the Republican National Committee issued a nonbinding resolution to declare the party’s undivided support for Trump.

Walsh also failed to get his name on the ballot in some states, including Vermont, Mississippi and Walsh’s home state of Illinois.

At times, Walsh struggled to differentiate himself as a viable Trump alternative. He courted controversy on social media in the years before his presidential run and was frequently pressed about those comments while on the campaign trail.

“There were some times when I went over the line and said things to be a little too provocative,” Walsh told a crowd at a college convention in New Hampshire in January.

Walsh’s singular campaign focus was criticizing Trump. He was often quick to ridicule former South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford for making fiscal conservatism the crux of his 2020 Republican presidential candidacy during his brief time in the race.

“This isn’t about the debt and this isn’t about tariffs and it’s not about any issue,” Walsh said when Sanford ended his run in November. “Trump’s unfit. It’s an emergency, and that’s the only reason you get into a primary against a sitting president.”

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—2020 candidates’ positions, and records, on economic issues that affect women
—How a company with 120 Facebook likes ended up at the center of the Iowa caucus firestorm
—Europe’s refugee crisis is getting worse—for these children
—Fortune Explains: The debt ceiling
—America’s young voters could sway 2020 results. What will it take to get them to the polls?

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3 Dangerous Thought Patterns That Can Destroy Your Business

Many people desire to go into business for themselves but few individuals actually do. And those who do, 6 out of 10 of them fail within the first five years. Why are these businesses failing? I’ll expose 3 dangerous thought patterns that can destroy your business and how to overcome them.

#1: Doing What You Want To Do Without A Clear Vision

A lot of people, who go into business for themselves are an expert in his or her craft. Unfortunately, most of them set themselves up for failure because, they start doing what they know to do and ignore the rest. These businesses begin operating according to the wants of the owner as opposed to the needs of the business.

It is this dangerous thought pattern that dooms their business before it even begins, and the reason is simply this:

  • The owner is so focused on doing what they’re an expert at, that they neglect working on what the business needs.
  • They have no vision for where the business is going or strategy for progress.

It is vitally important that you develop a compelling vision, values, purpose and mission for your business that gives you the clarity and fortitude to withstand the ups and downs that any business will inevitably have.

#2: Doing Business From An Employee’s Perspective

In the beginning, you can do whatever your business needs you to do. But, after some time, you find yourself doing not only the work you know how to do, but all of the difficult stuff you don’t know how to do as well. Then, ever so slowly, you realize there’s more work to do than you can possibly get done.

There’s nothing wrong with being an expert in your craft. There’s only something wrong with being an expert crafts-person who owns a business without changing this dangerous thought pattern! Because:

  • As an expert crafts-person turned business-owner, your focus is upside down. You see the world from the bottom up, from an employee’s perspective, rather than from the top down, from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
  • You were so used to working in somebody else’s business that, now, you’re working in your own.
  • But, while you’re working in your own business, there’s something more important that isn’t getting done. And it’s the strategic work, the implementation of systems that will lead your business forward, so you can live the dream you’ve envisioned.

If you want to have a viable business and not work yourself to death with this dangerous thought pattern, you must be able to make growth systematic and predictable. You need to think of a business as a series of systems that will lead to growth.

#3: Having a Tactical View Rather Than a Strategic View

When a business owner is focused on working in their business rather than on it, they become unclear of their priorities and try using every tactic they can get their hands on to bring in the income they desperately need. They impulsively try the latest trend or newest technique hoping it will work.

Well, in business, hope and guessing are not tactics. Having this dangerous thought pattern is not how you operate a successful business! You must have specific objectives or some way to measure whether that tactic is working or not.

You need to use a Vision-Based Framework to help you get the clarity, direction and focus your business needs to go forward. It helps you filter out distractions and use the right tactics that are in alignment with your business’s vision and strategic plan.

This is so important because, what your business is about is more important than what you’re selling.

As long as you have the dangerous thought pattern of viewing your business from a bottom up perspective, you are doomed.

Understanding the difference between what goes on in an expert crafts-person’s mind who owns a business, the mindset of an entrepreneur whose focus is on building and growing a successful business, and the 3 dangerous thought patterns that can destroy your business, is critical to discovering why most businesses don’t thrive and ensuring that yours does.

3 Indispensable Things to Know When Starting a Business

I’ve been speaking to people, and I don’t know if it’s because we’re in the first quarter of a new year or if there’s more confidence in the economy, but I’ve realized that many more people are looking to start their own businesses. As a business owner and social entrepreneur, I think that’s a great thing.

I’m often asked about my thoughts about starting a new venture, and candidly, I love the adrenaline rush, vision driving and strategy development of a new business opportunity. If you’ve been thinking about beginning a new company, there’s no time like the present to start to get yourself into the entrepreneurial mindset to consider if it makes sense for you.

If I were speaking to someone right now starting off as a new business owner for the first time, there are three essential things I would suggest they keep in mind:

  • Do You Really Want to Be an Entrepreneur?

The first question is the toughest, but you’ve got to sit with it for a while. I’ve spoken to many people along the way who have started a business, and then have fallen flat on their face and returned to the safe embrace of a 9 to 5 job. Being a business owner is not as “glamorous” as it may appear.

Sure, you’ll have a flexible schedule (on occasion) and are the final decision maker on large and small decisions, but being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. The truth is you will never work as hard as you do than when you’re a business owner, particularly in the early years. Twelve hour plus days, including weekends, is not uncommon.

Being a business owner means it’s all on you. You may have other people working with you. You may be one of those leaders who allows his team of professionals to be the professionals they are, but as an entrepreneur, your responsibility is to understand every area of your business: sales, marketing, legal, finance and accounting, administrative, marketing, research and development, product development, etc. It takes a great deal of time to know all areas of your business and make sure they are working correctly. It’s an endless process.

  • Do You Really Want to go into Business with Your Friends and Family?

Many times, particularly with small businesses, you’ll have friends or family members decide to go into business together. It makes sense to want to go into business with people you know and trust, but do you want to do that? If there is anything that comes up your relationships can be affected.

A great scenario is this one: you’re working 12 hour days and doing great in your areas of responsibility. Your business partner, and good buddy, perhaps is not as hard working and as disciplined as you are and so resentment begins to build. That’s a recipe for conflict and the likelihood that your business will survive with internal friction exponentially decreases with the increase in tension.

Another possibility is that you don’t go into business with any friend or family as your partner, but perhaps you decide to hire that same good buddy to be one of your first employees because you trust him. Again, what happens if he’s not putting in the hours or work that you think is essential for business success? There have been countless examples of business owners who partnered or hired friends or family only to be in a situation where the business has suffered (as well as the relationship) because of anything from work styles to fraud. It’s very tough to separate your business from your relationships without potentially ruining them.

  • Decide if You’re the Cupcake Baker or the Business Owner

Many people have a passion for something in their lives, and that’s great. Perhaps they love making cupcakes, or they love music and want to sell instruments. Whatever is your passion or interest, if you have one, you will not be only doing that work. As the business owner, the most crucial part of your business is a vision, sales, etc. and the path the company as laid out in your business plan.

If you love painting and you decide to open up a paint shop, you will not be spending your day painting. You will spend your day selling paint, dealing with customers and managing the books. Same goes for cupcakes or even widgets. The business owner that wants to grow his or her company is not going to be baking cupcakes exclusively but also running the business.

If you’re looking to grow, you’ve got to focus on the total “business.” As a business owner, the cupcake making, painting, music or widget making will be only one element, but it’s certainly not the “business.” The business is the promotion of your product, the price point, finances, customers, cash register, accounts receivables and payables, and payroll, etc.

In conclusion, don’t get me wrong. For me, I wouldn’t change anything in the world for my life as an entrepreneur. I love being a business owner and digging into all elements of my companies and brands. It’s invigorating, exciting and no day is the same. Any business owner will tell you, however, that the points mentioned earlier are essential for seeing if the entrepreneurial path is genuinely what you want.