Macron, French president, would love to fill German chancellor’s shoes. But a Europe with no single, central figure may be more likely.

After Germans vote on Sunday and a new government is formed, Chancellor Angela Merkel will leave office after 16 years as the dominant figure in European politics. It is the moment that Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has been waiting for, the New York Times’ Steven Erlanger reports.

The German chancellor, though credited for navigating multiple crises, was long criticized for lacking strategic vision. Mr. Macron, whose more swaggering style has sometimes ruffled his European partners — and Washington — has put forward ideas for a more independent and integrated Europe, better able to act in its own defense and its own interests.

But as the Anglo-American “betrayal” in the Australian submarine affair has underscored, Mr. Macron sometimes possesses ambitions beyond his reach. Despite the vacuum Ms. Merkel leaves, a Macron era is unlikely to be born.

Instead, analysts say, the European Union is heading for a period of prolonged uncertainty and potential weakness, if not necessarily drift. No one figure — not even Mr. Macron, or a new German chancellor — will be as influential as Ms. Merkel was at her strongest, an authoritative, well-briefed leader who quietly managed compromise and built consensus among a long list of louder and more ideological colleagues.

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