Germany: Armin Laschet Supported By Merkel Party In Chancellor Race

Armin Laschet has won the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party to run as a center-right candidate to succeed her in September’s elections.

Christian Democrat (CDU) leader Mr. Laschet was supported by 77.5% of the party’s executive board members.

His rival Markus Söder, who heads the CDU’s Bavarian sister party the CSU, was supported by 22.5% of the board.

Mr. Söder had earlier said it was up to the CDU to choose who would represent the conservative alliance.

Mrs. Merkel, leader since 2005, is about to face down at the 26 September federal elections.

Mr. Laschet, 60, was elected CDU leader in January and is additionally premier of North Rhine-Westphalia – Germany’s most populous state.

Mr. Söder, 54, is the premier of Bavaria.

More commonly a pacesetter of the CDU, the larger party, would be expected to become the 2 parties’ candidate. But at present, polls suggest Mr. Söder would be the more electable choice.

A candidate from the CSU has never won a federal election before. Two previous attempts by CSU leaders failed in 1980 and 2002.

Mrs. Merkel has not publicly expressed a preference for either potential candidate.

The conservative alliance is facing a decline in popularity following the coronavirus pandemic, slipping to about 27% in polls.

The Social Democrats have already announced their candidate for chancellor, minister of finance Olaf Scholz.

And on Monday the Green Party announced a candidate, Annalena Baerbock, for the primary time in its history.

Ms. Baerbock, 40, is probably going to be the sole woman within the race.

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