Germany: Angela Merkel's party chooses new leader Armin Laschet as leader

Germany: Angela Merkel's party chooses new leader Armin Laschet as leader


The party of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has chosen Armin Laschet as its new leader.

Germany’s largest political party will choose a new leader Saturday, with the winner well positioned to succeed Angela Merkel as the next chancellor of Europe’s leading economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party is choosing a new leader on Saturday, eight months before voters decide who will succeed Merkel in a national election.

The new leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union will either run for chancellor in the Sept. 26 parliamentary election or have a big say in who does run.

Laschet defeated Friedrich Merz, a conservative and one-time Merkel rival, at an online convention of the Christian Democratic Union on Saturday.

Laschet won 521 votes to Merz’s 466. A third candidate, Norbert Röttgen, was eliminated in a first round of voting.

Saturday’s vote is not the final word on who will run as the centre-right candidate for chancellor in Germany’s 26 September election, but Laschet will either run or have a big say in who does. 
 
There is no clear favorite in Saturday’s vote at an online convention of the CDU, with three main candidates who offer significant differences at least in style.

Friedrich Merz, 65, is a one-time rival of Merz who stands for a more conservative course. He is making his second attempt to win the party leadership after a decade away from front-line politics, following his narrow loss in 2018 to outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Laschet, 59, is the governor of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia – traditionally a centre-left stronghold – where he won election in 2017.

Norbert Roettgen, 55, heads parliament’s foreign affairs committee. He has served as Germany’s environment minister a post from which Merkel fired him after he lost North Rhine-Westphalia’s 2012 election. He defines himself as a candidate of the modern center,” emphasizing issues such as fighting climate change.

Saturday’s decision will end an 11-month leadership limbo in the CDU after Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who had failed to impose her authority on the party, announced her resignation. A vote on her successor was delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It won’t be the final word on who runs to succeed Merkel as chancellor. The CDU is part of the Union bloc along with the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, and the two parties will decide together on the center-right candidate. The Union currently has a healthy poll lead, helped by positive reviews of Merkel’s handling of the pandemic.

The CDU is part of the Union bloc along with the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, and the two parties will decide together on the centre-right candidate. The Union has a healthy poll lead, helped by positive reviews of Merkel’s handling of the pandemic.

Merkel, who has been chancellor since 2005, announced in 2018 that she would not seek a fifth term. She also stepped down from the CDU leadership.