The Post-Merkel Era: Towards More or Less European Solidarity?

Marcia Luyten
Programme editor
Anne-Marijn Epker
Programme editor
Joline Vermeulen
European Council on Foreign Relations
On September 26, Germans will cast their votes to elect a new Bundestag or federal parliament. The result will determine who will succeed Angela Merkel. On this night at De Balie we will discuss Germany’s political future and the impact of the election result on European integration and solidarity.

Germany’s 2021 election is much more significant than it may look. After 16 years as German chancellor, the longest-serving leader in the European Union will pass the torch. Ever since ‘mutti’ Merkel took office, Germany has been a major driving force within the EU. Whether Armin Laschet (CDU/CSU), Annalena Baerbock (Green Party) or Olaf Scholz (SPD) will be the next Bundeskanzler(in), Merkel’s departure raises questions about (the future of) Germany’s political stability, the geopolitical power of the EU and solidarity among member states. There’s no doubt her shoes will be hard to fill.

Considering the France presidential election in April 2022, the next twelve months could prove to be critical for the European Union.

In addition to this discussion, the makers of the Dutch electro-opera Merkel (Nineties Productions/Orkater, 2019) will contribute to the evening with theatre performance.

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About the participants

Luuk van Middelaar is a political philosopher, historian and professor of EU Law at Leiden University. In his new book, Een Europees Pandemonium (A European Pandemonium), van Middelaar reflects on the impact of COVID-19 on cohesion within the EU and the EU’s geopolitical relations.  

Jana Puglierin is head of the Berlin Office of the European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR). Her area of expertise includes Germany’s role in Europe and transatlantic relations. Puglierin also directs ECFR’s Re:shape Global Europe project.

Laurens Boven is a political journalist (BNNVARA, BNR Nieuwsradio) and former correspondent in Germany. In the run-up to the German elections, he is making a podcast about Merkel with Rob Savelberg, who currently works as a correspondent for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf in Berlin.

Floor Houwink ten Cate is a director and writer creating performances on the cutting edge of music theatre, opera and film. She initiated and directed the electro opera Merkel (2019, Nineties Productions/Orkater): a musical portrait of a seemingly egoless chancellor and the divided Europe she is leaving behind.

Annelinde Bruijs is an actress, singer and composer. She graduated in music theatre from Codarts Rotterdam. She composed music for and performed in the electro opera Merkel.

Benjamin Moen is part of the Flemish-Dutch theatre collective BOG and performed with Orkater/Zoutmus, Oostpool, Toneelhuis, Young Gangsters and Toneelschuur Producties. He played the part of the German chancellor in the electro opera Merkel.


Luuk van MiddelaarPolitical philosopher, historian and professor of EU Law (Leiden)
Jana PuglierinHead of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in Berlin
Laurens BovenPolitical journalist
Floor Houwink ten Cate Director and writer
© Diederick Bulstra
Annelinde BruijsSinger and composer
Benjamin MoenActor and theatre maker