On a frequent basis....ZDF (Channel Two from state-run German TV) produces a show called Politbarometer, and they will focus on several topics. One of the regular pieces is the rating given by the public for 'important' German politicians. It's usually regarded as a trust-index, where the public is nodding toward a German political figure who is generally respected.
For early July? The listing had Frank-Walter Steinmeier (the SPD foreign minister for the Merkel coalition government) at the top. He's generally seen on TV news almost nightly, and has been rarely ever criticized by the state-run news journalists.
2nd place? Baden-Wurttemberg's Green Party chief and minister-president.....Winfried Kretschmann. With the election in the past year.....he's gotten a lot of positive coverage and rarely puts his foot in his mouth. He might actually be a national trend but for one issue....his age. One might also note.....he's a realistic Green, with some appreciation of the public sector, jobs, and economic growth as being necessary to sustain a society.
3rd place? Wolfgang Schauble, the CDU finance minister.....the 'wheel-chair' guy. Probably the brightest and cleverest mind of the CDU....but reaching retirement age (he is 73 years old).
4th place? Chancellor Merkel (CDU).
5th place? Thomas de Maizière (CDU interior minister). He's faced the heat almost weekly with terrorism and attacks, and done quiet well. He is extremely bright and rarely if ever....screws up.
6th place? Oddly, the Linke Party gets their guy.....Gregor Gysi.....into the spot. In public chat forums, he is a tough opponent and comes prepared for arguments. He is pro-socialist to the maximum and a four-star intellectual. I probably should note.....of all of the top ten.....the public probably rates him as the most unlikely character for Chancellor.
7th place? CDU Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Over the past five years.....she has taken a stumble or two while head of the German military, but she has made it successfully on various German chat forums and does a pretty good job in debating tough subjects. Some people think she will be one of the finalists for the CDU when picking Merkel's replacement in 2017.
8th place? The SPD head, and vice-chancellor of Germany.....Sigmar Gabriel. If you asked Germans to go and identify some political figure for common sense and likely identifies more to the public sentiment than anyone else....Gabriel will be the name mentioned. The issue is....with the election coming up.....he's just not attracting a ton of support to the SPD Party. He's not a rocket scientist or brilliantly clever....but if you measured common sense statements....he's maxing out at a 'ten'.
9th place: The CSU (Bavarian version of the CDU Party) head and chief.....Horst Seehofer. He stands somewhere around 6'4" and has the thick Bavarian accent....if you ever have trouble identifying the guy. Journalists will go negative on him occasionally, but Bavarians love the guy. He claims he'll retire at the end of 2017 after the election. He and Merkel.....don't see eye-to-eye, and he has done some things to stress her out.
10th place. The Linke Party chief.....Sahra Wagenknecht. The "lady in red".....she typically dresses in red. Brilliant and clever.....she has mixed levels of appreciation within the Linke Party. She'd like to move toward a different immigration policy, but the majority in the party don't like that theme. In a public forum, she's a 'firecracker' and very smart on the facts or topics. It's safe to say that she is an intense campaign enthusiast and delivers some great speeches....which helps maintain some support for the small political party.
From this group in 2017, the likely chancellor? With Merkel out, and Seehofer a likely spectator.....it's not that great of a group to view a candidate standing at the end. I would even go as far as saying that journalists aren't really helping to shape anyone's career or enhance them for the role of future chancellor.
So, that's the top ten of Germany for mid-summer of 2016.